By Dan Walsh
Unlike many other prominent pilgrimage sites around the world, Our Lady’s Island has never experienced “a vision”; however, ‘a virtual vision’ in the non-transparent sense will ensure that this years’ pilgrimage events will be ‘live streamed’ on the Our Lady’s Island Facebook page or ourladysisland.ie
The annual pilgrimage which attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims annually is a victim of the Covid-19 guidelines so the disappointed pilgrims cannot seek the comfort of prayer in the traditional way through personal presence. Alternatively, they can avail of the Facebook page.
The opening Mass for the 2020 pilgrimage will be celebrated by Bishop Denis Brennan at 11am on Saturday, August 15th. Morning Masses will be at 10am and Evening Masses at 8pm.
Parish Priest, Fr Jim Cogley said; “The church is open each day and everyone who wishes to visit the island is welcome to come for their own individual pilgrimage at any time. Church numbers will be restricted during services. The gift and coffee shops will be open with social distancing.”
A BRIEF HISTORY; 1954 was the Marian Year. It was also the year that the celebrated Irish American rosary priest Fr Patrick Peyton visited Ireland and that included the 15th of August pilgrimage at Our Lady’s Island. 40,000 people attended.
It was an occasion that boosted the south Wexford village as a pilgrimage of importance. Next day The Irish Independent newspaper ran a full page of photographs and Fr. Peyton made the front pages. Later the picture of Fr Peyton at Our Lady’s Island would hang in many homes across Wexford flanked by President John F. Kennedy and Pope Paul VI.
Christian devotion at Our Lady’s Island goes back to the 6th century and it is on record that people travelled great distances and crawled around a circuit of the island on their bare knees! Those days were knocked out by the Great Famine of 1847, but twenty years later, in 1867, the Redemptorist priests gave a mission in the parish and revived the ancient pilgrimage. 2,000 turned up.
In modern times tens of thousands travel from all corners of the country and in 15 centuries only the Great Famine and Covid-19 has interrupted the mass devotion of ancient origins. This year get on to Facebook or get somebody to help with the technology which will be ‘live streamed’ on PCs, tablets, mobile phones etc. Look up ourladysisland.ie