On Saturday 10th February, the annual Mass in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes was celebrated by Cardinal Vincent in Westminster Cathedral. Concelebrating were Bishops Paul McAleenan and John Wilson, along with priests from the diocese, including a number of hospital chaplains.
Taking place just ahead of the World Day of the Sick, the Mass gathers together the faithful from around the diocese, with pride of place being given to those who are sick and infirm.
The Mass began with a procession of Redcaps (young Lourdes volunteers who assist sick pilgrims during the annual pilgrimage) bearing the Lourdes pilgrimage banners and the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, ahead of the altar servers and clergy. During the procession, Fr Peter Scott, Chaplain to St Joseph’s Hospice and Cardinal’s Adviser for Healthcare Chaplains, carried the Oil of the Sick.
The procession was accompanied by the congregation bearing candles as all sang ‘Immaculate Mary our hearts are on fire’, with the candles lifted high as they sang ‘Ave Maria’. The Lourdes choir led the congregation in the Lourdes setting of the Mass and the popular hymns that are usually sung on the annual diocesan pilgrimage.
In his homily, Cardinal Vincent spoke of the central role of prayer in the life of faith. He focused especially on intercessory prayer, which he explained is the highest form of prayer. As we pray for each other, we ‘join our humble prayers to Jesus’ great prayer of intercession’.
Following the prayers of the faithful, the Liturgy of Anointing began with a prayer of thanksgiving over the Oil of the Sick, asking God to ‘ease the sufferings and comfort the weakness of your servants whom the Church anoints with this holy oil’. The bishops and priests then spread throughout the cathedral to anoint all who came forward to receive this healing sacrament.
At the end of Mass, the Cardinal invited the lay chaplains present to come forward for a blessing, before the procession of banners left the sanctuary. Once the procession arrived at the West Door, the statue of Our Lady was turned around to face the congregation as all sang ‘Salve Regina’.
The annual diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes takes place this year from 21st to 27th July. For information about joining the pilgrimage or assisting those less able, please email email@example.com or call 020 7798 9173.