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Knights of Columbus Carl Anderson and the Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes
On the Memorial Day weekend, wounded and impaired American military veterans were going to Lourdes, France, as part of the 55th International Military Pilgrimage.
This event was sponsored by the Archdiocese for the military services and Knights of Columbus, the pilgrimage is a time for healing, both spiritually along with physically, in the sacred waters of the grotto and the adjoining environment.
In a letter to this year’s pilgrims, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus Carl Anderson, conveyed the honest thanks of the 1.8 million individuals in the Knights of Columbus to those who have served, and expressed hope that this pilgrimage would be a special time for them.
“The waters of Lourdes have been an origin of refreshment and also healing for the millions who have visited this holy place,” he stated, “and I wish that every one of you will discover at the Grotto some measure of relaxation and peace.”
Additionally responding to the pilgrims in the introduction letter, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services stated his hopes for the trip, expressing, “We pray that these upcoming days at the ‘heart of the Church’ will give reassurance, wellbeing, and also contentment to those people who have provided so much of themselves.”
The pilgrims have a weekend full of activities structured for them, including a series of Masses and ceremonies with veterans from other countries, a recitation of the rosary and the Stations of the Cross, and even a military band concert.
The Knights' sponsorship of the pilgrimage is the most recent chapter in the story of their participation in Lourdes, which first commenced nearly 100 years ago. During the First World War, the Knights were being very active in helping American military in another country and had an official Knights of Columbus Army Hut right in Lourdes itself. “The experiences of the Knights of Columbus in France have already been almost as several as are the emotions of man,” a study from the period says.
The Knights have joined in the troops in their time of difficulties; they also have really helped them to make good use of their times of leisure. They have knelt by their side on the battlefield, and, when no Priest was to be had, they have taken the dying lad’s last message, encouraged him in making his act of contrition, and, when all was over, they have closed his eyes. In times of military stress they have taken food to soldiers in areas, which the commissary had been unable to reach; they have made merry with them in hut and in club, joined in their pastimes, found them good reading, comforted them in body and in soul.
Immediately following the end of the war, the Knights additionally produced a guide to Lourdes immediately after repeated requests from American pilgrims.
“There happen to be a lot of demands from the individuals of the American Expeditionary Forces for a “Guide to Lourdes,” the introduction to the guide says, “that the Knights of Columbus feel themselves asked to offer this little volume. It has always been our desire to serve our forces in every way possible.”
On the other hand, that was not all. With many American troops stationed throughout Countries in Europe, the Knights of Columbus Carl Anderson arranged the first-ever international military pilgrimage to the Marian shrine at Lourdes. In particular grateful to the sacrifice and service of our veterans, Knights of Columbus almost everywhere join with the supreme knight and also the archbishop in wishing for a successful and also influential pilgrimage for all those presently in France, as well as for all who have risked their lives for the freedom.
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