INTERNATIONAL PILGRIMAGE TO ROME
Celebrating the Fourth Centenary of the Institute founded by Mary Ward (1609) in response to God's call for active engagement of women in church and world.
Sunday 4th October to Saturday 9th October 2009
1,200 people, CJ and IBVM Sisters, Associates, lay women and men co-workers, families and friends from 37 different countries and every continent met in Rome for this memorable Pilgrimage, a wonderful tribute to the spirit of Mary Ward that continues to inspire so many around the globe. The progamme was designed to remind us of Mary Ward's great achievement, and give us an opportunity to rejoice and give thanks to God for all the blessings of the past 400 years.
We started in the Piazza del Popolo where Mary
Ward and her companions had entered Rome in 1621. Accompanied by those who over the past several years had been walking in stages Mary Ward's historic journey on foot from Liege to Rome, the pilgrims re-enacted, in 17th century costume, Mary Ward's entry into Rome through the Flaminian Gate in December 1621. They were led by a baroque recorder player and received a warm and prayerful welcome as they joined the assembled 21st century pilgims. That evening we attended a special concert in the church of Sant'Ignazio, comprising 17th c. Italian and English music, provided by the Capella Musicale di San Giacomo & Ensemble Seicentonovecento.
Other events spread over the week included a Symposium on 'Mary Ward - a Woman for Today' with Sr Gemma Simmonds CJ as the keynote speaker and Srs Mary Wright IBVM and Martha Zechmeister CJ as the responders; a concert at the Church of S. Eustachio and a Musical Journey with Mary Ward at the Church of Caravita; a
reception for the English pilgrims at the British Embassy to the Vatican; a tour of Mary Ward's Rome - with forty-five groups on the move all at the same time; a visit to a catacomb; visits to the CJ and IBVM generalates with a garden party at Via Nomentana; and the final celebratory Mass at the church of Sant'Ignazio.
The whole group attended the Wednesday Papal audience in Piazza S. Pietro and made sure that we were seen and heard. An impromptu banner, 'Mary Ward - Santa Presto' caught the attention of Pope Benedict XVI. When the two general superiors met him after the audience and informed him that there were a thousand Mary Ward supporters in the Piazza he replied, 'I know, I've seen them'.
Throughout the week there was a mounting sense of celebration and joy as we moved around Rome, met up with friends in cafes, participated in several moving liturgies, and just enjoyed being together - always identifiable by our yellow scarves.