Features, Video

Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage 2011

The annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage will take place this weekend onIreland’s holy mountain Croagh Patrick in the Diocese of Tuam. This pilgrimage has been carried out uninterrupted for over 1500 years. Croagh Patrick has over 100,000 visitors annually with up to 20,000 people expected this weekend.

In the above video Archbishop Neary reflects on the significance of the Croagh Patrick pilgrimage for people of faith.

For over 1,500 years pilgrims have been climbing the mountain of Croagh Patrick, following in the footsteps of Ireland’s national saint. Up to 20,000 people are set to continue the tradition on Reek Sunday (31 July) 2011. Pilgrims young and old travel from across the country to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors, stopping at various stations on the climb to pray before celebrating Mass on the summit, where St Patrick spent forty days and nights fasting in the year 441.

Mass will be celebrated at the summit at 8.00am and every half-hour thereafter until the last Mass at 2.00 pm.  The 10.00am Mass will be celebrated in Irish and Archbishop Neary will celebrate Mass at 10.30am.  Pilgrims may avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the summit from 7.30am to 2.30pm.

Croagh Patrick, (c.2,510ft/765m)Ireland’s holy mountain, dominates the landscape of southwest Mayo both spiritually and physically. The Croagh Patrick pilgrimage is associated with St Patrick who, in 441, spent 40 days and nights fasting on the summit, following the example of Christ and Moses. The name ‘Reek Sunday’ comes from Patrick’s ability to Christianise many pagan customs including the festival of Lughnasa, which previously had heralded the start of the harvest festival honouring the ancient pagan god Lugh, whose name is encompassed in the Irish word for August: Lughnasa. This festival’s tradition became absorbed into the new Christian beliefs and locally become known as Domhnach na Cruaiche (Reek Sunday).

On the Friday of the pilgrimage weekend – Garland Friday, the day when the locals traditionally make the pilgrimage, the Eucharistic Congress Bell will be taken up to the summit of Croagh Patrick by a group of young people. Fr Tod Nolan will celebrate Mass at 10am on the Summit. The Bellwill stay on summit of Croagh Patrick until the end of the pilgrimage on Sunday.

All those who intend to climb are asked to come prepared for the current weather conditions, to bring suitable warm/waterproof clothing, good footwear, a walking stick/staff and water, and to be mindful of the safety of themselves and other pilgrims.

The Tuam Diocesan Vocations Committee will organise a marquee at the foot of the mountain to promote vocations and distribute some literature on vocations.

Further information on Croagh Patrick, and a virtual tour of the mountain, can be viewed on the website of the Archdiocese of Tuam www.tuamarchdiocese.org.

The website of Westport parish www.westportparish.ie also contains additional information about the Holy Mountain.

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