Sunday, 16 March 2014
In Bobbio I had the privilege of concelebrating the Sunday Morning Mass in the crypt of the Basilica of St Columban, the grave of St Columban being immediately in front of the altar and in front of the congregation. I arrived there before the scheduled time, explained that I was a Columban priest, and asked if I could concelebrate. The priest agreed instantly and was most accommodating. He introduced me at the start of the Mass and explained that I was a priest of the Missionary Society of St Columban who had come to do homage at the grave of the patron saint of the Society. The priest and congregation prayed the Mass in Italian while I followed the text in English/Italian on my i-pad!
When asking for the intercession of the saints in the Eucharist Prayer, it is customary for Columban priests to invoke the name of St Columban, just as members of other congregations invoke sainted founders, patrons or other members of their society, or the saint of the day, or the patron of the church in which the Mass is being celebrated. It was a particular privilege to hear the name of St Columban being invoked, according to Columban custom, but this time in the presence of his grave.
I offered the Mass for my brother, who is sick, and his wife and family, for all my family and friends, and for Columban priests, sisters, lay missionaries and co-workers around the world. May Columban inspire and bless our efforts at evangelisation in countries around the world in our day, just as he and the Irish monks were pioneers of mission in the Europe of their day. Amen.
At the end of the Mass, the priest introduced me again, mentioning that my name was Patrick, whose feast day was the next day and wished me a happy feast day. He also explained that I was heading to Spain to do the pilgrimage to Santiago di Compostela and wished me “buon viaggio” (good voyage, good journey, good travel), the Spanish equivalent of which is “buen camino”. The congregation gave me a round of applause! I was touched by their goodwill.
Immediately after the Mass I headed for the bus stop. Being a Sunday, there were fewer bus services, so I had to leave on the 11.00 am bus. I couldn’t wait till the afternoon service, as I had to get back to Piacenza to catch a train to Milan to catch a plane to Barcelona.