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News inserted on 11/09/2008

Pilgrimmage to St Peter’s

It was barely light when we arrived at the square of St Peter’s and there were almost no tourists. The few pilgrims went into the Church that seemed empty and very silent.

Before 9.00 am the Basilica is reserved for prayer. Some priests with small groups of the faithful were dispersed around the side altars celebrating Mass. People gathered from the farthest ends of the world. Our attention was drawn to a group of three very young Asian priests. Wearing sacred vestments they passed by silently, but visibly happy to be finally in one of the places at the heart of Christianity. We were all there, pilgrims in the footsteps of Peter and the primitive Church.

In the same spirit, we went down into the crypt to celebrate Mass. A very small chapel had been reserved for us. There are places where the witness of the faith of those who have gone before us is almost “felt”, places where one could say that even the stones themselves speak to us.

The frescos remind us of the faith of the primitive Church and of her martyrs. Beside us, some young people prayed and sang at the tomb of John Paul II. Their singing alternated with ours and joined with our prayer.

We prayed to the Spirit. Right in front of us was a very ancient fresco of Mary, one highly venerated in the popular Roman piety, by pregnant women.

For us, Marists, during this week of waiting and preparation (for the General Chapter), this morning the Lord gave us the opportunity to live this time of prayer as in a new Cenacle.

Blessed to be there, where Peter himself trod, we entrusted to the Lord, through Mary, the mission that has been given us and we opened ourselves to listen to him.

As the hymn goes:
One in heart, united in prayer
One in heart with Mary our mother
We watch, Lord, for the signs of the Spirit.

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