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Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem

Ordo Equestris Sancti Sepulchri Hierosolymitani


Homily of Edwin Cardinal O’Brien
at the Pilgrimage Solemn Opening Mass
Basilica of St.Paul Outside-the-Walls

Friday 13 September 2013


We are grateful to His Eminence James Cardinal Harvey and to the Community of St. Benedict for accommodating us at this Mass after a last minute change forced upon our schedule. Indeed we will be privileged to return to this Basilica of Saint Paul for our closing Mass and Investiture Sunday evening.

As you know, this opening Mass of our full Pilgrimage was supposed to be celebrated in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, the first church in Christendom to be dedicated to the Mother of God. As we gather from around the world to celebrate the Year of the Faith, it is fitting that our theme in this Mass is Mary, the Pillar of Faith.

In total, generous Faith Mary conceived the Son of God and supported throughout her life by that Faith, she followed even to stand courageously at the foot of the Cross.  Enduring the tragedy of his death, in Faith she believed in his promise of the Resurrection and surrounded by the Apostles, awaited the coming of his Spirit, giving birth to the Church, the Body of Christ.

Having given birth to Christ in Bethlehem, the Virgin Mary was in the midst of the Apostles when the Church, the Body of Christ was born at Pentecost. (In Italian on the original document: La Vergine Maria, che aveva dato la vita a Gesù Cristo a Betlemme, era con gli Apostoli quando la Chiesa, Corpo di Cristo, ebbe i suoi natali nel giorno della Pentecoste).

In Blessed John Paul II’s beautiful Encyclical on Our Lady, we hear:

“It is precisely Mary’s faith which marks the beginning of the new and eternal Covenant of God with man in Jesus Christ;  this heroic faith of hers precedes the apostolic witness of the Church, and ever remains in  the Church’s heart, hidden like a special heritage of God’s revelation. 

All those who from generation to generation accept the apostolic witness of the Church share in that mysterious inheritance and in a sense share in Mary’s faith”.

Mother of Christ, Mary is Mother of the Church – at the foot of the Cross and at Bethlehem. She is truly the Mother of each of us. (In spanish on the original document: Madre de Cristo, Maria es Madre de la Iglesia, a los pies de la Cruz y a Belén.  Ella es verdaderamente madre de cada uno de nosotros).

The Preface of our Mass reminds us that Mary, today, shines upon Christ’s disciples as a star of hope and a pillar of Faith.  Many our prayers be that of a noted spiritual writer:

“Mary, you are the first house of God in the world, the first context the first setting in which everything that was, belonged to God. Everything you are – everything! – is for God, his dwelling place. Gratia plena”.

May all the pilgrimage footsteps that follow, fall with the guidance of Mary, the pillar of Faith, and be accompanied by her footsteps.

Mary full of Grace, full of Faith, pray for us.

Gran Magistero dell'O.E.S.S.G.(c)
00120 - Città del Vaticano
Tel. 39 - 06 - 6877347
Fax 39 - 06 - 6877632