2012 Lourdes Pilgrimage with Malades
Fra’ Matthew Festing, the Grandmaster of the Order of Malta has often reminded members that although the head of the Order is in Rome, the heart of the Order is in Lourdes. Indeed, there are few places on earth where the charism of the Order is more vibrantly experienced than during its annual pilgrimage to Lourdes.
Here on the grounds of this beautiful shrine, thousands of volunteers gather every year to care for the sick and suffering. They come from all over the world, bearing the torch of Christian service.
This year from the 3rd to 7th May, the Singapore Association – comprising Knights, Dames, malades and friends – made the 13-hour flight to France to participate in this worldwide pilgrimage. Accompanying the group was the Conventual Chaplain of the Association, Archbishop Nicholas Chia, who celebrated mass for the pilgrims each day.
For some, it was their first time to the shrine of Lourdes. For others, it was the culmination of many visits that continued to inspire and strengthen their Christian vocation to service. There were many occasions to take part in the Blessing of the Sick, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross, as well as the nightly candlelight processions in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Highlights also included a special pre-dawn mass at the actual Grotto of Our Lady, celebrated by Archbishop Chia for the Singapore pilgrims. There was also the opportunity to attend the grand celebration of the International Mass in the underground Basilica of St. Pius X, where together with clergy, malades and volunteers from around the world, members of the Order were privileged to celebrate the Eucharist in the company of Cardinals, Bishops and the Grandmaster.
The Singapore pilgrims were also treated to a day of sightseeing in the small town of Luz-Saint-Sauveur up in the Pyrenees, where an ancient church that once belonged to the Order of Malta still stand.
In all, the days spent in Lourdes were joyous occasions filled with spiritual graces. Whether it was visiting the Baths near the Grotto, or revisiting the homes and places associated with St. Bernadette, both members and pilgrims were able to deepen their faith, and draw closer to Christ through the Order’s charism of serving the sick and suffering.