Nuncio to climb Croagh Patrick on Reek SundayFriday, July 27th, 2012
Close to 30,000 pilgrims are expected to take part in the annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage this weekend on Ireland's holy mountain, Croagh Patrick, which is in the Archdiocese of Tuam.
The pilgrimage has been carried out uninterrupted on Reek Sunday, the last Sunday in July for over 1,500 years.
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.
The festival's tradition became absorbed into the new Christian beliefs and locally became known as Domhnach na Cruaiche (Reek Sunday).
As in previous years, the climb of Croagh Patrick will be led by the Archbishop of Tuam Most Rev Michael Neary. This year he will be accompanied by the newly appointed Papal Nuncio to Ireland Cardinal Charles Browne. Cardinal Browne (52) stated when he was appointed in January of this year that he, “wished to get to know more about Ireland,” and it is believed that his decision to make the climb is in keeping with that promise.
According to the diocese of Tuam, Mass will be celebrated at the summit at 8:00am and every half-hour thereafter until the last Mass at 2:00pm.
The Papal Nuncio will celebrate the 9:30pm at Saint Patrick's Oratory at the summit of the mountain while the 10:00am Mass will be celebrated in Irish by Fr Jim Walsh.
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.
On Garland Friday, which is celebrated today, Friday July 27, local priest Fr Tod Nolan will celebrate Mass at the summit at 10:00am and he will also celebrate Mass at the base of the mountain in MurrisK car park at 7:30pm.
Mayo Mountain rescue service are asking all those who intend to climb to come prepared for the current weather conditions, to bring suitable warm and waterproof clothing, good footwear, a walking stick or staff, and water, and to be mindful of the safety of themselves and other pilgrims.
Meanwhile ahead of the climb, the parish priest of Westport Fr Charlie McDonnell has revealed that a Conservation Plan on the future use of Croagh Patrick has started.
“We are the custodians of Croagh Patrick for future generations and I must say that there is an element of recklessness in its present use. But this is not about apportioning blame. The various partners need to sit down, and this has already started, and make a future plan for its conservation and sustainability.”
He added, “I think everyone who uses the mountain needs to respect its Christian and pre-Christian heritage. If you look back at old photographs to the 1950's there is one clear path going up the mountain. Now it looks like a hodgepodge of many different paths.”
by Sean Ryan