The 53rd international pilgrimage of the Order of Malta to Lourdes has concluded. From 29th April to 3rd May around 6,800 people from 35 different countries – members, volunteers and pilgrims – went, as is tradition, to take care of 1,400 malades. People came from all around the globe including some from as far as Chile, the Philippines, Senegal and Australia. More than 170 chaplains of the Order of Malta were present.
Led by the Order’s Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, and members of the Sovereign Council, this year’s pilgrimage saw the participation of the President of the Republic of Malta, George Abela. Together with the Grand Master the Maltese President took part in the principal religious ceremonies; the Pontifical Mass on Sunday celebrated by the Prelate of the Order of Malta, Archbishop Angelo Acerbi; and the Procession of the Eucharist presided over by the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan.
The Order’s pilgrims took part in the beatification of His Holiness Pope John Paul II from Lourdes. A prayer vigil was held on Saturday evening and, while the ceremony of the beatification was taking place in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, it was transmitted directly into the Basilica St. Pio X in Lourdes.
The Grand Master met with the sick many times and personally gave them the Order of Malta’s medal for their pilgrimage. On Sunday evening Fra’ Matthew Festing gave a speech and met with volunteers who had taken part in the pilgrimage for the first time.