More than a thousand gathered for the annual Lourdes Day Mass held at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday 10 February. Hosted by local members of the Order of Malta, the Mass is an opportunity for those sick and infirm to receive a blessing and water sourced from the spring of the Shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes.

‘To a teenager in France, Mary revealed in a wonderous sign of water the glory of God,’ preached Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, who was the main celebrant of the Mass.

‘“Go to the spring,” said the Immaculate Mary to the innocent Bernadette, “drink of it and wash yourself there.” This was a healing sign that Bernadette received as a gift of grace. It is a sign that continues into today to bring life to those in need, healing to those wounded, and a cleansing for those who seek conversion of life.

‘All of these gifts—life, healing, conversion—are signs of God’s glory among us, and of his grace for us. It is especially a gift of healing for life.’

At the conclusion of the Mass, attendees gathered in the forecourt of the Cathedral to receive individual blessings with holy water from Lourdes by Archbishop Comensoli and local clergy, including Bishop Terrence Curtin, Bishop Anthony Ireland, Fr Joe Caddy, Fr Max Vodola, Fr Kevin Lenehan, Fr Brian Boyle, Fr Anthony Kerin EV, Fr Binh Le and Fr Michael Buck. Holy water and rosary beads from Lourdes were also distributed by member of the order, with the assistance of students from Genazzano FCJ College, St Kevin’s College and Loretto Mandeville Hall.

The annual event is hosted by the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhoades and of Malta (Order of Malta), which is one of the longest-running religious orders in the world. Founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century, the lay order’s mission is to care for the sick and those at the margins of society and to support the work of the Church. Each year, members of the order travel to Lourdes in France, where they assist the millions of devotees from around the world who undertake their own pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady.

All of these gifts—life, healing, conversion—are signs of God’s glory among us, and of his grace for us. It is especially a gift of healing for life.

These days, the order is active in 120 countries and cares for people through their medical and humanitarian works. This includes helping people caught up in armed conflicts and those affected by natural disasters, and providing medical assistance and basic equipment to refugees and those on the margins.

Closer to home, the order is involved in various charitable outreach programs, from mobile care vans to home-based palliative care, and partners with local Catholic organisations from Calvary Bethlehem, Mercy Health, St Vincent’s and Australian Catholic University on a range of programs for the poor and sick.