Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage 2012
The annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage will take place this weekend, 29 July, on Ireland’s holy mountain Croagh Patrick, near Westport, Co Mayo in the Archdiocese of Tuam. This pilgrimage has been carried out uninterrupted for over 1,500 years. Croagh Patrick has over 100,000 visitors annually with up to 20,000 people expected this weekend. See press release.
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 2012. 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.
The pilgrimage will be led by Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, who this year will be joined by the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, His Excellency Most Rev Charles Brown.
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.
Garland Friday – Local Pilgrimage – Friday July 27. Father Tod Nolan will celebrate Mass on the summit at 10.00am. Mass will be celebrated at the base of the mountain in the Murrisk car park at 7.30pm.
Recent historical pilgrimages
In 2008, history was made with a television first when Mass was televised live from the summit and broadcast on RTÉ television and on the world-wide web (see RTÉ News report here). This special broadcast was produced by the late Fr Michael Melvin SVD of Kairos Communications.
For Reek Sunday 2006, Archbishop Neary and other pilgrims were accompanied by Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. As successor to St Patrick, Cardinal Brady was the first Archbishop of Armagh to climb the Holy Mountain since St Patrick.
In 2005, Archbishop Neary unveiled a plaque to mark the centenary of St Patrick’s Oratory on the summit.
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).
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.
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.