Columban's Day in Rome 2014 by Rose Basada

18th October 2014 - by Rosalia Basada

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It was a blessing and privilege for me to participate in the Rome opening of celebrations to mark the 1400th anniversary of the death of St Columban. The Irish saint is the patron of the Missionary Society of St Columban.

There were four major events. They started on Friday 10 October with ecumenical vespers at 5pm at the Basilica of San Clemente. The church was full of pilgrims from different places in Europe. It was a very moving celebration as people gathered of many cultures and Christian denominations, so I was able to meet pilgrims from various churches – Catholic, Anglicans and Methodists. The Parish priest of Bobbio held relics of St Columban during the procession. They are normally kept at the Bobbio Museum, Bobbio being the town in Northern Italy where Columban died in 615AD.

After the ecumenical vespers we walked towards the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. There we listened, with fellow pilgrims, to ‘The Priests’ in concert to raise money for the Hospital of St Elizabeth of Hyderabad in Pakistan, which has strong links with the Missionary Society of St Columban.

On the second day – 11 October – we gathered at the Basilica of St John Lateran where there was a liturgical welcome of the relics of St Columban and a Solemn Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Cardinal Vicar of Rome. There were thousands of pilgrims at this event, and many priests and bishops. I was very blessed to be able to read one of the prayers of the faithful at this mass. It was very important to me to be able to contribute and pray for peace and interreligious dialogue, something I know is so important in my work as a missionary and in the world today.

I was amazed at how devoted so many pilgrims were to St Columban. Many had travelled from Germany, France, and Ireland,and from the Italian cities of Bobbio and Florence. Each group carried a banner with the image of St Columban. I’m happy I got the chance to walk and make friends with other pilgrims, I felt humbled and inspired by their patience and perseverance in joining the pilgrimage as I saw many of them walk a great deal to transfer from one church to another. This trip was very important for me as a Columban Lay Missionary as it helped me deepen my understanding about the patron saint of the Columban missionaries.

On the third day there was a solemn concelebrated Mass of Thanksgiving in honour of St Columban, The main celebrant was Ireland’s Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armargh, at the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. It was the only homily I understood because the celebrant normally spoke Italian but at this mass there was also an English translation. His homily was very informative and encouraging. It continues to gives me inspiration to keep going in my missionary journey. All the more it gave everyone more information about who St Columban was. Indeed, his memory lives on in the life of the parishioners of Bobbio and many parishes in Italy and other places around the world today.

We ended our pilgrimage by attending the Angelus with Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square. It felt like a very personal welcome, although we were surrounded by thousands of people. Pope Francis himself was so welcoming and greeted the Columban Pilgrimage. It was a blessing to see the Pope and be able to pray with him, with other pilgrims, and with my fellow Columbans.

Rose Basada is a Filipina Columban lay missionary based in Birmingham. She attended the St Columban commemorations in Rome 10-12 October 2014, opening a year commemorating 1,400 years since the saint’s death.