Maltese Association Pilgrimage to Lourdes 2016
The Maltese Association of The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (MASMOM) embarked on its annual pilgrimage to Lourdes on Thursday, the 29th April offering the 68 Our Lords the Sick, the opportunity to go on a spiritual journey to the Marian Shrine of Lourdes. The mission of the Sorelle and Barrellieri is to devote their time to the Sick attending to both their spiritual and physical needs. As the Grandmaster so aptly put it in his address of welcome to all first time volunteers, “we have come to Lourdes to help our beloved Malades and to make our pilgrimage with them. The real reason for which we are here is the call of Our Lady and the hope of the Sick which is also our hope.” These are poignant words which are foremost in the minds of the Sorelle and Barrellieri when on duty.
Around 90 pilgrims, as well as accompanying relatives and 68 Our Lords the Sick formed part of the entourage which left Malta and witnessed, on this recent international pilgrimage, 7,000 members of the Order and volunteers in Lourdes, the town at the foot of the Pyrenees, tending to the 1500 ‘Malades’ with dedication and attention. All Knights and Dames, hailing from 44 countries spread from the five continents, were connected in kindred spirit during this momentous occasion in their defence of the faith, their fidelity to the truth and love of Christ and assistance of the Poor. It was a moving experience for those pilgrims from Albania, Kenya, Senegal, Palestine, Syria and Iraq who felt united with those who had come to Lourdes a number of times.
We had the honour to have the Grandmaster, Fra’ Matthew Festing on this 58th International Pilgrimage who led all Knights, Dames and volunteers to pay tribute to the Year of Mercy in this Jubilee year. The Order’s volunteers carried out the rite of passage by walking through Saint Michel’s gate to the Sanctuary and gathered in the underground Basilica of St Pius X for the Eucharist procession.
The International Mass held on the Sunday in the underground Basilica was celebrated by Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Cardinalis Patronus, who drew on readings of the Mass and urged all members of the Order to reflect on the strong guiding spirit of the Association which determines all actions. “Only then” said Cardinal Burke, “would we be able to bring to the Poor and to the Sick the love of Christ that always heals and strengthens the suffering”.
This year, the Maltese Association was also tasked with organising a party for all Personnel working and caring for Our Lords the Sick in Lourdes. Maltese cuisine was savoured by the different nationalities that travelled under the auspices of the Order. Food was brought from Malta in refrigerated containers and Maltese wine was served. Approximately 1000 guests tasted Maltese hospitality and were each presented with a book token which showcased Malta’s historical and cultural beauty – the home of the Knights of St John who occupied the island from 1530 until 1798 and left their legacy making the current international organisations possible.
On the final evening before returning to Malta on the 4th May, the Maltese Association participated in the spectacular flambeaux which left all members of the group feeling spiritually enriched.
The Experience in Lourdes
Here are a few comments from the local pilgrims and guests to the Marian shrine: