Out of the 423 million Catholics in the world today, only about 2% will be able to go to Rome to celebrate the Holy Year. It is obvious then to ask why our Malayan pilgrims went to Rome at such expense to themselves, and how the rest of US' share in the Holy Year.
The word "pilgrim" explains itself: one who goes to some holy place for a definite pupose. The Popes have decided that every 25 years a Year of Jubilee will be declared, with tts centre in Rome, so that the children of the Holy Roman See may visit their Father in his own Church and reap rich spiritual benefits for doing so. This has been going on for centuries, so pilgrims today are continuing the good custom of their ancestors in the Church. Human nature needs a stimulus of the spiritual now and again, and the materialism of the world needs a frequent counter It is good to remind all that not by bread alone does man exist.
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.
One fine morning we stepped into the Ford and were driven in the direction of a "blue ridge," range of mountains by our Filipino boy. "Antipolo," said Father Beck, "is right out in those mountains ahead of us!" They were a picturesque group of peaks covered for the most part with green vegetation of light and dark shades. The clouds hovered over them planting a sweet morning kiss upon their crests. What an inviting setting for a sacred place, I thought, as we sped on. And when once we began to Wind around those peaks and could view the locality from closer range I could not help admitting that this was of a truth nature's shrine of prayer.