SEVEN hundred pilgrims who, led by Mgr. Masterson, Archbishop of Birmingham, had been to Rome in the first National English Pilgrimage, arrived back in England on Saturday last.
They had set Out from London as comparative strangers but, after ten days in each other's company, making their jubilee visits and praying together, they came back welded into one big family.
The pilgrimage was the largest so far to go to Rome from this country and was representative of the country as a whole.
With the pilgrims were Mgr. McGrath. Archbishop of Cardiff, Mgr. Leo Parker, Bishop of Northampton, Mgr. Petit, Bishop of Menevia, Mgr. Cirimshaw, Bishop of Plymouth. Bishop Beck and Bishop Craven.
" To all of us it was a memorable time," Fr. M. P. O'Neill, Mgr. Grimshaw's secretary, told THE CATHOLIC HERALD. " The pilgrimage was a model for all others."
Fr. O'Neill told of the Archbishops and Bishops travelling the length of the train each morning and evening to speak to everyone and help them in every way possible.
He told, too, of the attentiveness of the two doctors and the nurses, Sisters Sadie and Peggy and of the students at the English College who acted as the pilgrirws' guides in Rome.
" In Rome itself, our audience with the Holy Father was to me the greatest day. On Wednesday morning we entered a packed St. Peter's, and as we awaited the arrival of the Holy Father. we sang our hymns in our own language.
" I remember Faith of our Fathers sung with such power by our 700 pilgrims, the Hail Glorious St. Patrick of the Irish, the Lourdes Hymn of the French. and then how St. Peter's rocked when all nations joined in the singing of the Credo."
Fr. O'Neill said that he returned to England with the impression that " the whole of Rome seemed pilgrim-minded. There was very little evidence of overcharging."