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A group of Australian Catholics from the Order of Malta were among the first pilgrims in the world to return to the Sanctuary of Lourdes in south-west France which has been closed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 11 Australians were part of a group of 3,000 pilgrims from 31 countries who joined Lourdes for the 64th International Pilgrimage to Our Lady’s Sanctuary on the first weekend in May.
One of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the world, many sick people attributed the water near Massabielle Cave with healing properties at the site where Our Lady first appeared to a 14- year-old girl. year old, Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.
“Another highlight of the pilgrimage was a candlelit Marian procession, attended by thousands, which continues a long tradition in Lourdes dating back to the 1950s.”
Our Lady appeared several times to St. Bernadette where she manifested herself as the Immaculate Conception, invited prayer and penance, pilgrimage and devotion and has since offered healing to the sick.
Pilgrims from the Order of Malta spent five days in Lourdes and met for a Pontifical Mass, concelebrated by Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, the Pope’s special delegate for the Order of Malta, together with the Prelate of the Order, Monsignor Jean Laffitte and 100 parish priests. of the Order.
The other highlight of the pilgrimage was a candlelit Marian procession, attended by thousands, which continues a long tradition in Lourdes dating back to the 1950s.
The Australian President of the Order of Malta, the Hon. James Douglas, said that the site of the French pilgrimage has long been of profound spiritual significance to the members of the Order.
“A pilgrimage to Lourdes represents one of the most significant moments in the spiritual life of the members and volunteers of the Order,” said Mr Douglas. Catholic Week.
“Members are expected to attend the Order’s pilgrimage at least once, however many find the experience so rich that they attend each year. It is with great joy that we are able to return this year. “
The Magistrate of the Order of Malta in Australia, Fr Paul Nulley, said that the pilgrimage helped to strengthen the international nature of the organization.
“For Australians unable to visit Lourdes, the Order of Malta ‘Brings Lourdes to Australia’ in their annual Lourdes Day Mass celebrations in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide . ”
“I have witnessed how Lourdes gives concrete expression to the spirituality of the Order. The pilgrimage was an opportunity for me to understand how to contribute to the overall mission of the Order. I met fellow parishioners from all over the world and saw something of Catholicism and the global reach of the Order. ”
For Australians who cannot visit Lourdes, the Order of Malta ‘brings Lourdes to Australia’ in their annual Lourdes Day Mass celebrations in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.
Attendees of these special celebrations, including sick people from Australia, will receive a blessing for good health and a bottle of Lourdes water for their personal use.
Details of these Masses are on www.orderofmalta.org.au