Mary Ward 400th Anniversary Celebrations
3-9 October 2009
By Sr Carmel Gallagher, IBVM
Glorious sunshine and bright blue skies greeted the 1,000 pilgrims who travelled to
These celebrations, held between 4-9 October included an enthusiastic papal audience in St Peter’s Square for the pilgrims; a re-enactment of Mary Ward’s entry into the city of Rome in 1621 through the Flaminian Gate; several concerts and liturgies in the churches associated with Mary Ward and a symposium.
It all began for the Irish contingent with their departure at an unearthly hour from
Sunday 4th October:
Mass on Sunday morning at the
In the afternoon, hundreds of IBVMs, CJs, Associates and friends from all over the world assembled in
It was during these couple of hours that the internationality of the group assembling for the celebration became apparent. The buzz was palpable with the informal meeting of IBVM friends from different provinces and introductions to some of our CJ Sisters. Many welcomed an opportunity to rest awhile. A
Monday 5 October:
Some chose to take a guided bus tour of the city in the morning. All were instructed to be behind the Irish Flag, carried by Sr Josephine Keegan, in the Piazza del Popolo for a short para-liturgy to welcome the pilgrims through the Porta Flaminia at . By mid afternoon, the yellow and blue scarves which were seen all around the city in the forenoon, were converging from North, South, East and West into the Piazza del Popolo. It was the first time in the week that the 1,000 followers of Mary Ward came together to celebrate … and did we celebrate!
A moving para-liturgy in German and English was enhanced by a choir of Romanian CJ Sisters and a large choir of students from St Mary’s Shaftesbury in the
Tuesday 6 October:
Sr Gemma Simmonds, CJ, was the keynote speaker at a symposium on Mary Ward at the Augustinianum in the
Sr Mary Wright, IBVM, and Sr Martha Zechmeister, CJ, responded.
The latter spoke in German but we, English-speaking participants, got a simultaneous translation given, superbly, by Sr Julie Clinton, IBVM. Sr Martha spoke as if she were Mary Ward speaking to us today - challenging, inspiring and stimulating us. The symposium was held over two sessions in order to give all a chance to attend.
Each member of the Irish contingent received a personal invitation from the Irish Ambassador to the Holy See, Mr Noel Fahey and his wife to a reception in their residence on Tuesday night. We were joined by other Irish religious and priests living in
Wednesday 7 October:
Pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square from for the Papal Audience which was due to begin at . All of Mary Ward followers were assembled in the same corral and the internationality was striking. The very large numbers of Mary Ward Associates, young and old, men and women, from all over the world gave a sense of hope, joy and encouragement for the future. A large banner, carried by one group, read: “Mary Ward – Santa Presto”.
The young CJ Sisters from
Later in the afternoon there were guided meditations in different languages in churches associated with Mary Ward around
Thursday 8 October:
The morning was assigned for walking tours of the city given by several leaders familiar with Mary Ward’s
The international Mass in the
Sr Josephine Keegan carried the Irish flag in the entrance procession with Sr Anne Mary Murphy proud to hold the Rumbek flag aloft. The choir providing the music was from Alltötting in
Friday 9 October:
Mass in English was celebrated in the
While the caterers prepared lunch for the 1,000, the guests were entertained by the choir from Shaftesbury and a group of twenty-five young CJ Sisters from
The very large lawn at the back of the Generalate provided ample space for everyone to sit and was a great sense of sharing and joy as people mingled and tried (often unsuccessfully) to overcome language barriers. Nevertheless, there was an understanding and acceptance that we were all Mary Ward’s followers.
Saturday 10 October:
Many of the pilgrims made their way home to their respective countries. Aer Lingus brought a number to
More images from the Jubilee celebrations in Rome can be seen in the Image Gallery. Click here