The Order of Malta’s pilgrimage to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, a few kilometres from Assisi, has particular significance for the Order’s Italian members.
One of the largest sanctuaries in Italy, it was built at the behest of Saint Pius V in the place where the Franciscan Order was born and where Saint Francis died. In addition, since the end of the World War II the basilica has housed a reproduction of the icon of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Philermos, the Order of Malta’s patroness since the time of its presence in Rhodes. It is here that the Order of Malta’s traditional pilgrimage usually takes place at the beginning of September for the anniversary of the birth of the Virgin Mary. Hence the great disappointment when the coronavirus pandemic caused the 2020 pilgrimage to be cancelled.
On 11 September last, the pilgrimage was able to be held again, in compliance with health rules and Covid-19 distancing. Presided over by Fra’ Marco Luzzago, Lieutenant of the Grand Master, some 150 knights, dames and volunteers of the Order came from all over Italy, compared to the over 600 participants in 2019.
In the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, the Holy Father’s special delegate to the Sovereign Order of Malta, presided at the solemn mass. At the end of the eucharistic celebration, Cardinal Tomasi, together with the Lieutenant of the Grand Master, prayed before the icon of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Philermos in the left arm of the basilica transept.