Every year at the end of October, from all over Italy the Order of Malta’s members and volunteers come to Loreto, together with the Malades, to participate in the pilgrimage. Led by Grand Master Fra’ John Dunlap, it took place from 27 to 29 October this year.
The pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto is the most important of all those organized by the Order of Malta’s three Italian Grand Priories to Italian sanctuaries. Inside the Basilica, built between 1469 and 1587, the Holy House represents the heart of the shrine. It consists of three stone walls that, according to ancient and authoritative tradition, stood before the Nazareth grotto where the Blessed Virgin Mary was born, lived and received the Annunciation.
As always in the pilgrimage the Red Berets, the ‘young helpers’, around 50 volunteers between the ages of 5 and 16, distribute water during the functions, serve in the refectory and infect all the pilgrims with their joy. “My meeting with the young people being assisted in Loreto was one of the most joyful moments of the whole pilgrimage which, as ever, was very poignant,” said the Grand Master.
The opening Mass of the Order’s pilgrimage was celebrated by Msgr. Fabio Dal Cin, prelate of Loreto and papal delegate for the Holy House sanctuary. The Mass on Saturday morning was presided over by the Prelate of the Order of Malta, Mgr. Jean Laffitte. The Sunday Eucharistic Concelebration was presided over by the patron of the Order of Malta, Cardinal Gianfranco Ghirlanda.
There were many moments of prayer and of reflection but also of conviviality that spiritually enriched the pilgrimage participants.