On the morning of the 22nd February 1934, the S.S. Chontilly left Singapore harbour with myself and three companions. We were pilgrims for Rome and were going with the object of gaining the Holy Year Jubilee Indulgences fraciously granted by Our Sovereign pontiff Pius XI.
On the 27th February at 6 o'clock in the morning we entered the Port of Madras, where about 300 pilgrims were waiting to join us. They hailed from all parts of India and Burma and among them were one Archbishop, 4 Bishops, 4 Monseigneurs and 44 Priests.
At 7 p.m. of the 28th all the pilgrims now being berthed on board flie S.S. Chontilly were taken in auto cars to the Cathedral of St. Mary, Madras, for Benediction. The Service was most impressive and quite a large number of the public were present to give us a hearty send-off.
Immediately after the Benediction Service, the pilgrims accompanied by the sympathising public, walked in procession to the harbour, which is distant about a mile from the Cathedral. En route we recited the Rosary and saner a few hymns. * On arriving at the harbour the Archbishop and Bishops went up the pilgrim-ship and blessed her. Then with many an affectionate farewell, the pilgrims parted from their friends and boarded the vessel.
Departure from Madras.
The pilgrim-ship immediately left her moorings and made for the open sea. The singing of hymns continued, meanwhile, by those on the ship and together with those on the harbour till the ship got out of the breakwater.
At Colombo and Djibouti.
At Colombo, which was reached about 1 p.m. on the 2nd March, 137 Ceylon pilgrims joined us. Before the ship left Colombo at 6 p.m. many had the pleasure of seeing the beautiful island.
Nine days later found us anchored at D'Jibouti a French port on the African continent and though it was night some of us got ashore to see the little town while our ship was coaling.
Passing the "Gate of Tears." After a few hours the boat coni jnued her route and soon we pasted the "Gate of Tears" and found urselves in the Red Sea. Here wing to engine trouble we were elated and arrived at Suez only at a.m. on 16th March, ane day after ichedule - time. Some of the pilgrims got down here to go and lave a view of Cairo. Our ship however did not wait for them but continued on her course and steamd slowly through the Suez Canal.
The canal, is very narrow when One boat has to pass another, one of them has to be moored to the bank. It was interesting to watch this done as also the activities of a few human and animal life in an otherwise desert land. The canal is only 80 miles long; but our boat was obliged to go so slowly that it took her full 10 hours to go through. We reached Port Said at 7-30 p.m. and were quite delighted to set foot again on terra firma after being on the water for so many days. We spent a few hours looking around and making a few purchases. Those of us who had gone to Cairo now rejoined us at Port Said at about midnight.
Next morning at 9 a.m. we were once more on the waters moving in the direction of Haifa.
Haifa was reached at 4 a.m. on the 18th. of March, After the usual examination of passports and the search by Customs Officers we were allowed to land. Having landed and assembled together at the Bus Station we knelt down to thank God for the safe voyage He had granted us and to place ourselves under the protection of Our Lady during our journey in the Holy Land.
Spiritual Retreat on Board.
The days we spent on board the ship were not wholly idle. We had to prepare ourselves by a kind of spiritual retreat to get the maximum profit from our pilgrimage.
For this purpose we were placed under the guidance of our Director, Reverend Father A. Le Tellier, S.J. who conducted all our devotional exercises.
Every morning at 6-30 a.m. he said Mass at which we all assisted. After Mass he gave us lessons on the method of making meditation. As we were only tyros he would himself make the " acts " aloud and require of us to repeat them after him. This method, most trying no doubt for our Director, was continued for some days till we were all able to make meditation by ourselves. Our Director insisted that all of us mediatate daily.
The Blessed Sacrament on the Ship.
The Blessed Sacrament was reserved on board the ship in a suitable place. This was a boon much appreciated by the pilgrims who would go occasionally to visit Our Dear Lord in His Prison of Love, It is believed that this was the first time that the Blessed Sacrament was reserved on board. Of course the permission of the Holy See must have been duly' obtained.
The day was brought to a close by the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament followed by a lecture on some scene of Our Lords' Passion. I shall never forget the lecture on Gethsamane: how the soul-stirring words of the preacher went home to our hearts and moved some of us to tears.
Needless to say that besides the mass celebrated by our Director, which I may call the official mass, there were other masses celebrated at different times and in different parts of the ship by the several clergyman we had on board.
Visit to Holy Places.
From Haiha we set out in the direction of Jerusalem in auto cars and arrived at Nazareth at 10 a.m. where we heard Mass and received Holy Communion. After which we visited the spot on which Our Lady's house stood and we had the pleasure of kissing the spot where the Mystery of the Incarnation took place. After a good meal at Casa Nova we continued our journey and in a few minutes we were at Cana where Our Lord changed water into wine—without alighting at Cana, we pushed on to Lake Tiberias, arriving there at 2 p.m.
We walked to the shore of the Lake and knelt down to say a short prayer. From the shore of Tiberias we were shown the ruin of Caparnaum and the mount on which Our Lord multiplied the five barley loaves and two fishes to feed more than five thousand mouths. The Hill is not high Its stop is fiat and wide enough to accommodate few thousand people. After leaving Lake Tiberias we passed by Mt. Tabor and through many towns and villages. It is noticeable how modern the houses in all these places looked. At last we arrived at Jerusalem and it was 6 p.m. and we were unable to visit the Church of the Cavalry—after arranging for our accommodations some at Casa Nova and the rest at the Assumptionist. we had our dinner and were told to retire early, as we were to attend Mass next morning from 4-30 a.m.
Punctually at 4-30 a.m. next morning many were at the Church of the Cavalry hearing Masses at the Altars of Mother of Sorrows and of the Crucificatern. At same, we all assisted at the High Mass celebrated by one of our pilgrim priests in the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre. This chapel is divided into three sections—the first section which is the ante-chamber to the Grave is called " The Chapel of the Angel." In the middle of it is the stone which the Angel of the Lord, having rolled back from the entrance of the Sepulchre, sat upon. From the " Chapel of the Angel" a narrow low doorway leads into the Lord's Sepulchre.' which consists of two sections—the sections having been caused by the earthquakes which occurred at the moment of Our Lord's Resurrection.
After the High Mass we were conducted to the Chapel of the Flagellation where we were given the privilege to kiss the pillar to which Our Lord was bound and scourged.
The pillar is of stone and is 18 inches in diameter and about 3 Feet in height. It is only a part of a whole pillar, the other part is to be seen in Rome. We were taken next to the Chapel of the Division of the Garment and there we saw the pillar on which Our Dear Lord was mockingly enthroned while his torturers crowned Him with thorns. This pillar is about the same sjze as that of the Flagellation and is encased in a mesh-work of wire.
We were next taken to the crypt of St. Helena which marks the spot where the three crosses that of Our Lord and the two thieves who were crucified with Him were threwn by the Jews and where St. Helena had discovered them. It is quite close to the rear of the Calvary, but to get to it one has to go down several flights of stairs into a grotto.
At about 10 a.m. we visited quite a number of places. We saw the wailing Wall. It is a part of the basement of Solomon's Temple.
A Jew happened to be just there then. It was most piteous to see him shaking himself and striking himself as he wailed with sorrow.
Then we went to the valley of Josaphat where it is believed the Last Judgment will take place. The other places of interest were Mount Sion, and the Mount where Abraham was ordered by God to sacrifice Isaac; Mount of the Ascension ; t he Jewish Cemetery; the Commissioner's Bungalow; the Hill of Evil Council, w7here Judas hanged himself; the Field of Haceldama: the Mosque of Omar; the Mosque of Angsa; the Hill of Scanda; where Solomon had erected temples for his 360 wives. There were also the Church of Dormition of Mary. The Cenacle where the Last Supper took place, (which is' now in the hands of the Turks and where we are not allowed to pray or made the sign of the Cross and yet this is the place where the Holy Eucharist was first instituted—dear to all Catholics - while in this place we are asked to pray that it may come into the hands of the Catholic soon)—the Tomb of David and the palace of Ciphas.
On the spot where Caiphas palace once stood is now a Greek Church. In it is still preserved the small room in which Jesus was confined after His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.
MAKING THE WAY OF THE CROSS.
At 3 p.m. we had our tiffin and left immediately after to interview the Patriarch of Jerusalem who was very pleased to see us. Then a group photograph of all the pilgrims was taken. After this we made the "Way of the Cross" along the very route Our dear Lord had made His journey for our sins. This route lead through the Market Place to Mount Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre.
The first station is in the Church of the Passion.
About one hundred feet from the first station in a narrow street and near a Greek Church is the Second station, the exact site being indicated by a Cross under an Arch. Two hundred feet further on is the Third station. It is the site of an Armenian Church. About 50 feet further on and marked by a cross on an Arch is the Fourth Station. The Fifth station is 50 feet further on, the words " V station marking its exact spot. About 200 feet away from the Fifth station looms the word 'Veronica’ on the door of a private dwelling. This is the Sixth Station. The words "VII station on an ornamental gate about 100 feet away marks the site of that station. About 50 feet further marked by a Cross on a wall is the Eighth station. After this station the route passes through the market place and about 500 feet away on the steps leading up to a Franciscan Church, the exact spot being market by a pillar as the Ninth station. Another 500 feet from here and up the slope of Calvary is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In it are the remaining five stations. On the right side of the Chapel of the Calvary is the Tenth station a rosace in front of an Altar marks this spot. Twenty feet further is the Eleventh station on the spot where now is the Crucifixion Altar and another 10 feet to the left is the Twelfth station. Five feet only from here is the Thirteenth station. The Fourteenth station is a good 100 feet from the thirteenth. The Chapel of the Sepulchre has been built over it. A Greek Altar has been built over the exact spot in which Our Lord's Cross was planted. It is marked by a brass p-ate and may be seen through a hole under the Altar. The positions of the Crosses of the two thieves are also indicated by two dark slabs.
Next morning a little after 5 a.m. we left in buses for Bethlehem arriving there about 6 a.m. Lined in twos with lighted candles in our hands and singing the " Adeste Fidelis " we march to the Grotto of the Church, which being about 20 feet below the ground-level we had to descend in single file down a flight of stairs. The place of the Nativity is marked with a silver plate in the form of a star. On its right is the manger on which the Mighty God in the form of a helpless Babe was laid by His Mother. Besides the Altar dedicated to the Three Kings near the manger there are other Altars in the Grotto which was the stable of the Nativity of Christ and which is how entirely built upon by a large Greek Church—The Grotto is so small, there is room for only thirty people. We had therefore to hear Mass and receive Holy Communion in batches.
A little distance away from the Grotto of the Nativity is the Milbe. Tradition has it that the Holy Family rested here on their flight to Egypt and a drop of Our Lady's milk happened to drop on the ground while she was giving suck to the little Child Jesus—Women using the sand of this grotto find nursing easy.
Our next move was to the Garden of Gethsemane which witnessed the Agony of Our Lord. It is now entirely surrounded by a wall and the olive trees in it look very gnarled and ancient especially the Tree of the Agony. A pillar marks the spot where the former gate was and the spot where Judas betrayed Our Lord with a kiss. Two paces awav is the rock on which the disciples fell asleep although bidden by the Lord to "watch and pray". We entered the Church of the Agony. In the centre . of the Church is the rock by which Our Lord prayed in His Agony before Hus betrayal and arrest. Here our Director preached a stirring sermon on the Agony of Christ of the Blessed Sacrament—and then proceeded to the Grotto of the Tomb of Our Lady. It is just without the enclosure of the Garden of Gethsemane.
After the visit to Our Lady's tomb we left for Haifa where we arrived at 6 a.m. We then proceeded to the church of Mount Carmel and after a short prayer in that beautiful church we boarded the S.S. Chontilly again, which brought tears to the eyes of all the pilgrims. After a short meditation we had the Benediction Needless to say that our experience of the three days in Palestine was most pleasing and fruitful to our soul—The cold in the night however was intense and in Jerusalem four blankets hardly sufficed to keep us warm.
NOTE:—We were truly sorry we had such a short time in the Holy Land, and had not our time been fixed for arrival at Rome before Easter Sunday, we would have asked to be kept in the Holy Land. As a matter of fact a few of the Pilgrims did return for a second visit to the Holy Land on their return voyage. With the present reduced rate of steamer fares it will be well worth the while to spend one's furlough, which need not be more than six weeks, visiting the Holy Spots of Palestine—Of course arrangement should be made beforehand with the Superior of Casa Nova or that of Assumptionists in Jerusalem who are more willing to render their assistance in the matter of conveyance, transport or lodging, or the unscrupulous Jew will not fail to take the advantage.
We set foot on Italian soil at Naples at 10 a.m. of the 25th of March, 1934. Through a misunderstanding one section of us proceed to the Cathedral St. Januarius in Naples the other to that of Our Lady of Grace, Magnano. where the Relics of St. Philomena are kept. It was Palm Sunday. The people in the streets were bearing away with them from the Churches slips of Olives branches; some had them in their hands, others in the button-boles of their coats. Outside the town of Naples the Italians looked pleased to see us and occasionally waved their hands in token of delight— At one village the people brought olive branches and distributed them to us.
At the Church in Magnano we were permitted to kiss the relics of St. Philomena. Those who had separated from us and had gone to the Cathedral of St. Januarius, rejoined us by this time. We then returned to Naples—Those of us who went straight to Magnano, repaired to the Cathedral of St. Januarius and had the pleasure of meeting at the end of the mid-day Mass, the Cardinal of Naples who imparted to us his blessing—after our tiffin at the Railway station hotel we had a bus-ride in the principal streets of Naples—we saw Mt. Vesuvius—Then we boarded the train which brought us at 10 p.m. to Rome; without detaining we continued on to Padua, where we venerated the Relics of St. Anthony—After making the round of the town of Padua we entrained for Venice which took us a few minutes only.
Venice, the Queen of the Adriatic, is a most wonderful city. It stands on many islands, so that its streets are canals and it coaches and buses are gondolas— of course it has cars and autocars which are beautiful ones too as well as nice roads, streets and bridges. Its magnificent churches, art galleries, palaces, bridges and public buildings have writs largely on them the former greatness of the City of the Doges. We left Venice late in the evening for Rome and arrived there at 7 a.m. the next day, that is, the 27th of March, straight away we were conducted to the Basilica of St. Anthony to hear Mass and receive Holy Communion.
In Notre Dame Convent in the Rue Justi we had our meals during outstay in Rome, but we occupied quarters in the private hotels in the vincinty. In the afternoon at 5 o'clock we walked in procession to the Church of St. John Lateran to make the required visits to the several Altars for gaining the Jubilee Indulgence—In this Church above the Central Altar on high pillars may be seen two figures, they are those of Saints Peter and Paul. The heads are the real heads of the Saints. The miracle is that they are still fresh after so many centuries.
St. John Lateran was once the Cathedral of the Pope. The Tabernacle on the main Altar is of real solid gold and before it burns night and day 45 silver lamps. This church boasts also of possessing the Last Supper Table and the wooden portable altar of St. Peter.
From St. John Latern we went to the Vatican to interview His Holiness It is incredible the amount of climbing we had to do before we found ourselves in the reception rooms of the Pope's Palace—I for one was quite exhausted Fortunately we had no long to wait His Holiness appeared dress in white with a face beaming with kindness. He was attended by his Secretary and Aid-de-Camp. As we caught sight of his fatherly face we made the hall ring with cheers of " Viva il Papa." All of us were on our knees when His Holiness coming to each one presented his ring to be kissed—After this greeting we followed His Holiness into the Throne Room where he ascended his throne and addressed us in French which Reverend Father Le Tellier, our Director, interpreted into English —The Holy Father's address came to us as a surprise for we were given to understand that he would not speak to us for more than 20 minutes. And when we discovered that the address and the interpretation of it occupied more than one hour, our admiration for His Holiness' condescension knew no bounds. Before leaving us His Holiness gave us his blessing which we received on our bended knees. He also ordered that a medal of Blessed Don Bosco and that of the Holy Year be given to each of us and invited us to be present at St. Peter's on Easter Sunday for the Canonisation Service of Don Bosco and Easter Mass.
We had other Churches to visit in order to fulfil the conditions for the gaining of the Jubilee Indulgences. This we did from Wednesday in the Holy Week to Holy Saturday—The Churches we visited were St. Paul, St. Peter's, 9t. Mary Marjories', The Gesu—St. John of the Holy Cross, St. Ignatius, etc.
We had the occasion to make the way of the Cross at the Coliseum one evening also to visit the Catacombs one morning.
One day after hearing mass and receiving Holy Communion in the church of the Catacombs we made a descent into the underground passages on either side of which were niches where the early Christians were buried. It also served at one time the refuge of the Christians during the persecutions —There was no time to go the whole length of these passages; so we saw just a little of the catacombs, but had a good look at the crypt of St. Cecilia.
On Good Friday evening we were in the Church of St. John of the Holy Cross—In this church are kept several Relics connected with the Passion of Our Lord—Some of these Relics are:—a portion of the true Cross fixed on the three arms of a large wooden Cross; the sign I.N.R.I. which was nailed to the head of the Cross on which Our Lord died—the finger of St. Thomas, the Apostle; two thorn's from the Crown that encircled His Sacred Head; a fragment of a stone from the Holy Sepulchre and the wood of the Cross of the good thief. After the usual service, there was a procession in which these holy relics were carried—The crowd that attended the procession was somewhat enormous the like of it was never seen . before^It took us more than an hour tog^t out of the church and through the concourse that had gathered outside it who kept up shouting 'Viva La Cruce.'
Another very consoling act of devotion we had the happiness to perform on Good Friday was the climbing of the Scala Santa.
The Scala Santa is a flight of Marble Stairs from Pilate's house in Jerusalem which has been brought over to Rome—Our Lord had walked up these stairs to receive His death warrant. His precious Blood which was dripping from His .Body in consequence of the brutal scourging His enemies had inflicted on Him, left deep stains on the white marble steps. Devotees go up this flight of stairs on their knees kissing the while the stains of the Sacred Blood—It is a very painful operation considering the great height of the stairs.
We visited the Vatican Museum, the Museum of St. John Lateran and the Museum of Purgatory. The last mentioned Museum contain Articles bearing evidences of the existence of Purgatory and the ardour of its cleansing fire—There is a Breviary with the imprint of the five fingers of a man burnt through it—The account given of it is that a certain priest having died appeared to his friend-priest and told him how he was suffering in Purgatory for having neglected to say a mass one day when alive and requested him to say that mass. To impress upon him t h e reality of the case the apparition laid his hand an instant on the priest's Breviary leaving upon it the evidence of the burning heat that was torturing him.
Another article is a cloak with an impression on the shoulder of a burnt hand. The account says that a certain woman of exemplary life having died without obtaining the conversion of her wayward son for which she had prayed much during her life time, appeared to him and thus addressed him:— "Son, if in spite of my exemplary life I am in Purgatory, what think you will be your fate when you die ?"—She at the same time rested her hand on his shoulder for one instant and left on the clock the impression of her burning hand.
Of all the beautiful Cathedrals and Churches we visited in Rome, sad they were many, none can approach the Basilica of St. Peter's in size or beauty—Its immensity is seen in the fact that 60,000 can very easily find room in it—Besides the main body of the church with its High Altar, there are 27 chapels with their Altars, each capable of accommodating hundreds of worshippers—Its beauty is such that no part of it strikes one as being capable of improvement and ail the parts are so well proportioned— It is the most stupenduous edifice ever raised by the hand of man to the worship of his Creator.
The sight that bursts upon the astonished gaze, surpasses the wildest dreams of imagination— Everything seems resplendent in light, magnificence and beauty.
The climax of our delightful pilgrimage came on Easter Sunday— We arrived at St. Peter's at 7 a.m. —This was about three hours before the Canonisation Ceremony was to take place; yet when we entered we found that the seats allotted to us were occupied and we were obliged to stand in the allotted enclosure No. 3. Streams of people kept pouring endlessly into the church, and yet there was always standing room for more— At 9 a.m. the privileged class began to take their seats. The Crown Prince of Italy was greeted with shouts of " Long live the Prince " and great clapping of hands. A while afterwards came a procession of Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals, then shouts of "Viva il Papa" announced His Holiness approach. The shouts became louder and louder as he neared the church and when he entered borne in his gestatoria and attended by his Swiss-Guards—the beautiful band began to play and a vociferous clamour broke out in the spacious church and continued unabated till he took possession of his throne behind the High Altar.
Soon after the Canonisation Ceremony began. One of the Cardinals approached His Holiness and appealed for the canonisation of the Servant of God, Blessed Don Bosco, to which the Holy Father made a short reply. This was repeated three times;, each time with greater insistence. Finally the Holy Father gave his consent, Blessed Don Bosco was solemnly proclaimed Saint and the Te Deum was sung in thanksgiving.
After the canonisation, the Pontifical Easter High Mass was sung. The Pope's voice rang clear and loud and was most agreeable to listen to. It was well on 2 p.m. when the services were concluded and the Holy Father ^ a s borne out again in procession. The congregation made its exit from the church through all the doors but remained assembled in the piazza in front of the church. After a while the Holy Father appeared on the balcony of the Basilica, spoke a few words which the loud speakers amplified, and then he imparted his Easter Blessing on the expectant crowd—Scarcely was the blessing imparted when down came a heavy shower of rain which drenched us to the skin.
The immensity of the crowd that attended the festivities of Easter Sunday can scarcely be imagined. Our Director had warned us that it was an offence to faint within the first two hours of the ceremony and sure enough the fainting fit began at noon. The atmosphere had became quite hot and stuffy in consequence of the large crowd in the Cathedral besides the still greater crowd outside the Cathedral not able to gain admittance and men and women began to collapse one after another. Such cases are not unexpected in St. Peter's for there are special Officials detailed to attend to them. These officials came and made themselves very useful. Among us there were no less than half a dozen who fainted. Reverend Father Rego of Singapore who came to Rome a fortnight before us, was with us in enclosure No. 3. He rendered useful help to these special officials by attending to cases in our enclosure.
The splendour of the decorations in St. Peter's on Easter Sunday before the commencement of the Canonisation Ceremony of Blessed Don Bosco cannot be adequately expressed in words. The whole Church's interior was a blaze of colour and light—the ceiling, the pillars and the walls were covered with fairy lights most artistically arranged—Every bit of the huge edifice was embellished with, luxury, greatness and harmony of everything. The imposing sight can be better imagined than described. It leaves an everlasting impression of its magnificence. On the night of the 1st of April at 10.30 p.m. we entrained, for Lourdes—We passed through Pisa, Nice, Monaco, etc.—At Monte Carlo the train actually stopped a few minutes to allow us to witness motor-car race which was in progress— At Vingt-Mille, a village on the Italian-French boundary we changed train.
The journey through France was long and tedious and though we passed through many important towns we noted nothing as we were too tired to take interest in anything— we were very glad therefore, when, at 7 a.m. on the 3rd of April we reached Lourdes; but it was very cold.
Lourdes is quite a large town with many big hotels and shops selling rosaries, medals, pictures and other religious objects and souveniers. There is also a hospital near the Basilica where all the stretcher cases that are brought to Lourdes are housed. The Basilica, of course, is the principal edifice and the centre of attraction is the grotto. The Basilica consists of three churches one on top of the other.
Large stations of the cross with life size figures extend along one side of the Basilica up a hill—The distances between the stations have been made to correspond as much as possible with those in Jerusalem. The first station is at the foot of the hill; the others rise gradually higher and higher. The station on the top of the hill is the thirteenth —while the fourteenth is in a hallow on the other side of the hill. The figures are very realistic and so inspiring that one cannot help shedding tears while making the way of the cross.
The grotto, except for the floor which is paved with marble slabs, is exactly as it was in the days of Bernadette—The stream she started still continues to flow through Taps from Reservoirs. A beautiful statue of white marble presented by the French Senate occupies the niche in which Bernadette saw the Immaculate Conception. A large rock just under the niche occupied by the statue has been rubbed down to a smooth surface by the consistant kissing and touching of visitors.
Hundreds of stiches, crutches, artificial legs etc. hanging all around the walls of the grotto testify to the numerous authenticated cures. There are two structures near the grotto; one is a sacristy and the other is a dressing room for bathers.
Patient or Pilgrim who wishes to use the holy bath is admitted into the room. He undresses, and, but for a loin-cloth, is quite bare—He enters the cistern of cold water and is given a prayer to recite—after which two attendants gently let him down in the cistern, where he lies on his back, till he is satisfied— Then he is lifted out of the bath again and helped to dress without drying himself.
Many patients suffering from various chronic diseases are to be seen every evening at the front of the Basilica at the time of the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament which takes place every day. Each sufferer receives a blessing by having the monstrance placed on the head—cures take place at this moment.
The old history of Lourdes of St. Bernadette's childhood is illustrated by panoramic view in a special hall in the town. There the little girl Bernadette is seen kneeling with fagots of firewood by her side, her eyes fixed on an apparition, at the niche in the grotto—The Valley of Massabielle—the rock of which once looked dreary and dull—is crowded with people from far and near—some praying with her, others watching her—with soldiers on the qui vive.
The old stream is seen close by her. Note—Though the water in the bath is very cold and the weather outside is wet—pilgrims are always advised to take the holy bath—The wonder is not only one not inconvenienced by the exposure, but feels the better and the warmer after the cold bath.
We left Lourdes on the 7th of April at 2 p.m. and arrived at Paris next morning at 7 o'clock—Most of us found quarters at the hotel L'Intendance and the Palace Hotel and spent a busy day in sight-seeing. At 5 o'clock in the morning of the 9th we took the Tube Railway (i.e. the under ground train) which brought us to the Railway Station St. Lazare where we entrained for Lisieux arriving there at 10 a.m.—we went straight to the Church of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, said a short prayer before her crib in the church, and then heard Mass and received Holy Communion—In a sort of museum containing all her Relics we saw her First Communion Robe and Crown, her nun's dress, her hair which was cut off when she took the veil her disciplines, corded whip, crucifix etc.—Even her little table, shoes and clogs are preserved there. In her parents' house, which also we visited, everything has been left as when she left it to enter the Convent. We saw there the Christmas crib, her own children hands had fashioned, and all her toys which she loved so much- as a child.
We returned to Paris the same day—The next two days we toured the city—visited Bon Marte and on the 12th of April we left for London— The passage across was very trying owing to the rough sea in the channel.
Whilst in London we found board and lodging at the Royal Hotel in Russels square and we took part in a Novena of Holy Communion in honour of the English Martyrs —"Tryburn Tree" now called the Marble Arch, was one of the many places we visited. The Tyburn Convent is in an ordinary house, a few yards from the Marble Arch facing the Hyde Park.
Beneath the chapel of Perpetual Exposition in this Convent is the Oratory of the English Martyrs, the memorial shrine of one hundred and five priests, religious, lay men and women who laid down their lives at Tyburn in defence of the Catholic Faith. The Oratory is found on the left on entering the hall of the Convent—Visitors are admitted on applying" to the portress, and may thus make a closer inspection of the reredos and the paintings than is possible through the grilled door. The precious contents of the reliquaries on the walls especially invite examination —They are the chief treasure of this little shrine, and explain its existence.
Gratitude towards those whom they recall has inspired several anonymous benefactors to complete what the nuns had begun in coming to Tyburn. They accordingly offered to decorate the Oratory in honour of the martyrs who shed their blood within a few yards of this very spot, and one of the first effects of their undertakings was the erection over the Altar of a Replica of Tyburn Gallows. On the beams of the gallows are inscribed the last words of Ven. Henry- Heath:—"Jesus convert England. Jesus have mercy on this country." At the back of the Altar setting off t h e gallows hangs a curtain embroidered with palms and crowns, above which are emblazoned the Arms of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Oxford and Cambridge. It is the work of the boys of St. Joseph's School of Arts and crafts at the Benedictine Abbey of Maredsous. By them were also wrought the six Jewelled lamps that hang from the beams of "Tyburn Tree," while an example of their skill in carving is shown in the oaken reredos. We returned to Paris on the 23rd April and once more took up our quarters at the Hotel L'lntendance.
The next day at 4 p.m. there was a heavy fall of sleet and the streets were white with hail stones. The same evening we entrained for Marseilles, arriving at 9 o'clock. We were taken straight to the church of Notre Dame de La Garde. The Church is on a steep high hill and it required much coaxing to induce the ladies to get into the lift which took us up an incline of 75 degree up a height of about a thousand feet—-After Mass and Holy Communion we hurried off to the harbour and after seeing to our luggage and ticket we on board the S. S. Explorateur Grondidier, once more ready to cross the seas. It was 6 p.m. of the 25th April 1934 when we sailed out of the harbour of Marseilles. Like many others I thought that the pilgrimage was now over and that we were going to be left entirely to ourselves and I chuckled at the thought of a long lie-up-in-bed—But our Director did not think so. He ordered a general meeting of all the pilgrims at 8 p.m. and gave us to understand that we were to observe the same daily regulations as on our outward journey— This meant Mass at 6.30 a.m. followed by meditation and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 8 p.m.
The Blessed Sacrament was reserved and visits had to be made.
On Thursday the 3rd of May, at 10 p.m. an all-night watch before the Blessed Sacrament was observed. This was not a case of each man taking his turn for one hour— All the pilgrims were together from 10 p.m. before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the Altar— Private and collective prayers, hymns, sermons and meditation helped to beguile the time. At 11.30 p.m. coffee was served and at midnight the recitation of the rosary was resumed, followed by sermons, hymns and meditation till 4 a.m. when the official mass was said and Holy Communion given—after which all dispersed. We arrived at Port Said on the 30th of April and at D'jiboute on 5th of May, where we landed at 2 p.m. and were entertained to Tea at an Hotel by the Captain of the Grandidier— After which we had Champagne at the expense of Our Director.
At Colombo on the morning of the 13th of May where those for Ceylon landed—Almost all the rest of the Pilgrims went ashore to have another look—round of this beautiful town—In the afternoon of the 15th of May we arrived at Madras, all those for India and Burma— after a most painful and touching leave-taking—landed here—-leaving the four of us to continue our Journey to Singapore—where we arrived on the morning of the 22nd of May—after a very pleasant and uneventful voyage.
Note. His Holiness, at the interview with us expresses a desire to more Asiatic pilgrimages to Rome be organised—This is being done and the next pilgrimage will be April 1935. It is interesting to record here the remarks made on the second pilgrimage by two wide-world reporters. Catholic and Non-Catholic TIDES' "The second Indian Pilgrimage made a profound impression wherever they passed by their sterling faith and deep piety. Pope Pius himself showed strong emotion as he told them that they were an example to the world—Fervent devotion marked the life of the body throughout its journey."
REUTER "Their general demeanour created a favourable impression wherever they went."
MALAYA CATHOLIC LEADER, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2nd 1935., pg 6 & 7.
MALAYA CATHOLIC LEADER, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9th 1935- pg 2 & pg 18