Celebration in Rome October 2009
Over a week in October 2009 a thousand of us celebrated the Mary Ward 400 Pilgrimage in Rome. This was a joint celebration of the whole Mary Ward family, CJ and Loreto’s, sisters, family and friends. We came from all five continents and thirty-seven different countries. The programme 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.
The programme of events started in Piazza del Popolo where Mary Ward and her companions had entered Rome in 1621. Those, who over the past several years have been walking in stages Mary Ward’s historic journey by foot from Liège to Rome, entered the Piazza through Porta del Popolo in 17th century dress. They were led by a baroque recorder player and received a warm and prayerful welcome as they joined the assembled pilgrims. That evening we attended a special concert in the church of Sant’Ignazio, comprising 17th Italian and English music, provided by the Capella
Musicale di San Giacomo & Ensemble Seicentonovecento under their director Maestro Flavio Colusso.
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 of music at the Church of S. Eustachio and a Musical Journey with Mary Ward at the Church of Caravita; a tour
of Mary Ward’s Rome – with forty-five groups on the move all at the same time; a visit to a catacomb; a garden party; and the final celebratory Mass at the church of Sant’Ignazio.
The whole group attended the Wednesday Papal audience in the Piazza 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.