In pictures: Lourdes Day Mass celebrations in Melbourne
Report by Denis Fitzgerald, Friday 20 December 2013
THE annual Lourdes Day Mass was celebrated at St Patrick’s Cathedral on a beautiful early-summer morning on Saturday 7 December 2013.
There was standing room only in the Cathedral, which reflects the attraction that the Mass has for a wide range of Victorians. It is an occasion to pray for those who are sick or infirm, to strengthen our faith in the Divine purpose that underlies all life, and to thank God for the blessings that have been showered on each one of us.
Archbishop Denis Hart celebrated the Lourdes Day Mass, supported by chaplains from the Order of Malta. The Archbishop, the chaplains and other celebrants gathered outside the Cathedral after Mass to offer individual blessings, which were greatly appreciated.
The day has a distinctive atmosphere, and the multi-cultural congregation, diverse too in its age, and its mobility, started to gather early. Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta – the Order sponsors the day, along with the Archdiocese – were on hand to provide assistance where needed. Volunteers from Melbourne Catholic schools also provide welcome support. Gift packs that include a small bottle of Lourdes water and a rosary were in great demand.
Inside the Cathedral, patrons were welcomed by the lofty echo of a harp, which was replaced during the Mass by the organ and choir. The Lourdes Hymn resounded throughout the vast space as the congregation joined in the singing of this favourite pray to Our Lady.
Members of the Order of Malta and their chaplains organise Lourdes Masses in aged care residences throughout the year, but the demand for places in the Cathedral on the first Saturday in December never seems to reduce. The spirit of Lourdes, where Our Lady appeared to St Bernadette in 1858, clearly runs strong in the Melbourne Catholic community.
As with the millions of people who visit the Lourdes Shrine each year, some seek miraculous healings which have been a feature of the Lourdes Marian devotion, but for many it is the restorations of peace to the soul, for themselves and loved ones, that is their main prayer.
Photos by Casamento photography.