Mary Ward celebrations in Rome - calls for beatification

banner in front of St Peter's calls for speedy sainthood for Mary Ward

banner in front of St Peter's calls for speedy sainthood for Mary Ward

This week,  Rome has been full of pilgrims from all over the world celebrating the life and achievements of Mary Ward.  The week-long celebration began in the Piazza  del Popolo where an international group in seventeenth-century costume re-enacted Mary Ward's entry into Rome after one of her heroic journeys on foot across the Alps. They greeted a group of sisters who have been making stages of the actual journey in pilgrimage over the past three years.  More than 1,000 sisters of the Congregation of Jesus and Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto) from every continent in the world, plus colleagues, students, staff and friends have been visible around Rome in brilliant yellow scarves, praying and marking the 400th anniversary of her pioneering vision for women.

Events included an international symposium addressed by Dr  Gemma Simmonds CJ, of Heythrop College, University of London, Australian-born canon lawyer, Dr Mary Wright, formerly general superior of the IBVM, now working in Rome in the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, and Professor Martha Zechmeister CJ of the University of Central America in San Salvador. 

Liturgies around Rome included processions with international flags, dance by sisters from India and superb music sung by the choir of St Mary's School Shaftesbury,  under director Deborah Radford and organist Richard James, who is also head of the school.  The choir sang at the Papal audience and in St. Peter's and gave other concerts.

Specialist seventeenth-century music was provided during the week by Australian singer Josie Ryan.  During a reception given at the British embassy to the Holy See, ambassador Francis Campbell took the opportunity to thank the sisters present for their contribution to the many sectors of British society in which they have worked and served since the founding of the Bar Convent, York, in 1686.

On Wednesday,  all the Mary Ward pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square and called for her rapid canonization.  "Pope Benedict himself is a past Mary Ward pupil from our schools in Germany', says Sister Gemma Simmonds, 'and is a great admirer of hers.  She gave so much to the church and to society, not only for her own day but for ours. The time for her amazing achievements to be recognized is long overdue, so if the Pope is coming to England next year to beatify Cardinal Newman it would be a most opportune moment for there to be two English beatifications instead of one.  This has been a brilliant opportunity for us to see how Mary Ward's influence extends across the world.  I hope it will prove to be a good rehearsal for the next great celebration".

Share this story