The US District Superior, Fr. Wegner, has begun a 10-day pilgrimage to visit Catholic sites in Belgium, Holland, and Germany with 43 faithful:
Europe is home to countless Catholic shrines, monuments, and other treasures. In coordination with Regina Pilgrimages, Father has returned to his home country, sharing with pilgrims his first-hand experiences of his home country as well as Belgium and The Netherlands – areas that are very familiar to him.
The pilgrims gathered in Brussels on Michaelmas day, the patronal feast of the city. The first destination was the national church of Belgium, the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. Completed in 1519, the cathedral was built over a 400-year period on the spot of a 9th century chapel to St. Michael in the Treurenburg Hills. The architecture is a type of Low Country Gothic called Brabant. The altar is of marble and alabaster, and the nave is framed by a dozen pillars, atop each of which is one of the Apostles.
“Consider the faces and implements of the statues,” Fr. Wegner said to the pilgrims.
“The artists who crafted them took their time, and made careful choices in what to depict. Look at the implements of their martyrdom with which they are shown. Examine their faces and see what the artists wanted to convey. Do not hurry past – take your time.”
From the cathedral, the pilgrims went to Notre-Dame du Dablen, a Gothic church originally patronized by the nobility and wealthy citizens of the city. Adorned with magnificent stained glass windows reaching forty-five feet in height, the church once housed a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin Mary which was brought by a girl form Antwerp.
The High Mass that evening was at St. Joseph’s Church, a beautiful shrine in the heart of Brussels. Built in the 19th century and 25,000 square feet in size, the church was kept by the Redemptorists for many decades. A Syriac group then held the property for 15 years until it was acquired by the SSPX in 2001. The Superior General at the time, Bishop Bernard Fellay, wrote of this joyful event:
“We had the joy of seeing a magnificent church in the heart of Brussels restored to Catholic worship. It sums up where we are and what we are doing – restoring Catholic Tradition as best we can within the Church.”
Originally built as the church of the Belgian royal family and nobility, St. Joseph Church is the largest SSPX church in the world, and it left quite an impression: “My favorite part of the pilgrimage so far has been the Mass at St. Joseph’s Church,” said Jordan, a pilgrim from Texas.
Sunday Mass the next morning was also at St. Joseph’s, after which the group toured the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The Art-Deco church is topped by a copper dome 295 feet above the ground, and is dedicated to Belgian soldiers who perished in the two world wars.
Monday morning, the pilgrims boarded a bus and visited three shrines en route to Aachen.
The first stop was the Shrine of Our Lady of Beauraing. In this place, from November 1932 to early January, 1933, Our Lady appeared to five local children a total of 33 times – one time for each year Our Redeemer lived on earth. Our Lady showed the children her golden heart as an expression of her motherly love. She asked the children to sacrifice themselves to her for love her and her Son, to pray always, and for a chapel to be built there as a place of pilgrimage and to convert sinners.
The second stop was the Shrine of “Vieux Bon Dieu” of Tancrémont, where Mass was offered. Cared for by the Norbertine Fathers of Averbode Abbey since 1957, it is home to a 1,000 year-old Romanesque crucifix. The life-sized piece depicts a crowned Christ in robes, His face peaceful and serene as the King of Kings triumphant over death.
The final stop before Aachen was the Shrine of the Virgin of the Poor in the town of Banneux. In this provincial town in 1933, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to an 11-year old girl in a series of eight apparitions, requesting prayers and the construction of a chapel.
Remarking on all the signs of Catholic culture, one of the pilgrims from Kansas, Kathleen, said: “We’re getting a different view of culture, but it’s the exact same Faith.” Also from Kansas, Ginny commented:
"The Norbertine priest made a great impression. He explained that the Tancrémont Crucifix shows Christ crucified with a crown. This is a Catholic response to the taunt that Christ failed. But He did not fail – He triumphed, and now there is no sign of suffering.”
As these pilgrims continue on their discovery of this richly Catholic heritage, we invite our readers to join them in the daily pilgrimage prayer, the Universal Prayer of Pope Clement XI, below:
O MY God, I believe in Thee; do Thou strengthen my faith. All my hopes are in Thee; do Thou secure them. I love Thee; teach me to love Thee daily more and more. I am sorry that I have offended Thee; do Thou increase my sorrow.
I adore Thee as my first beginning; I aspire after Thee as my last end. I give Thee thanks as my constant benefactor; I call upon Thee as my sovereign protector.
Vouchsafe, O my God! to conduct me by Thy wisdom, to restrain me by Thy justice, to comfort me by Thy mercy, to defend me by Thy power.
To Thee I desire to consecrate all my thoughts, words, actions, and sufferings; that henceforward I may think of Thee, speak of Thee, refer all my actions to Thy greater glory, and suffer willingly whatever Thou shalt appoint.
Lord, I desire that in all things Thy will may be done because it is Thy will, and in the manner that Thou willest.
I beg of Thee to enlighten my understanding, to inflame my will, to purify my body, and to sanctify my soul.
Give me strength, O my God! to expiate my offenses, to overcome my temptations, to subdue my passions, and to acquire the virtues proper for my state of life.
Fill my heart with tender affection for Thy goodness, hatred of my faults, love of my neighbor, and contempt of the world.
May Thy grace help me to be submissive to my superiors, condescending to my inferiors, faithful to my friends, and charitable to my enemies.
Assist me to overcome sensuality by mortification, avarice by alms-deeds, anger by meekness, and tepidity by devotion.
O my God! make me prudent in my undertakings, courageous in dangers, patient in affliction, and humble in prosperity.
Grant that I may be ever attentive at my prayers, temperate at my meals, diligent in my employments, and constant in my resolutions.
Let my conscience be ever upright and pure, my exterior modest, my conversation edifying, and my comportment regular.
Assist me, that I may continually labor to overcome nature, to correspond with Thy grace, to keep Thy Commandments, and to work out my salvation.
Make me realize, O my God! the nothingness of this world, the greatness of Heaven, the shortness of time, and the length of eternity.
Grant that I may prepare for death; that I may fear Thy judgments, and in the end obtain Heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.