Our pilgrims were at Saint Peter's Basilica this morning with Cardinal Edward O'Brien, head of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and Monsignor Francis Kelly, an old friend (and fellow Worcester Priest) and Canon of Saint Peter's Basilica. Here is Monsignor standing next to the closet where all his vestments are stored in the sacristy at Saint Peter's.
Then we took the tour of the excavations beneath Saint Peter's. I think it has been twenty years since I went on the "Scavi" and it has improved immensely! At the end we prayed before the bones of the Prince of the Apostle.
Yesterday we celebrated Mass at the Pontifical North American College. We were originally hoping to have Mass at San Onofrio, the patronal Church of the Knights of the Holy Speulchre. Here is the homily I prepared for that Mass.
We look for God. It’s what life is all about. Looking for God, the one who made us, and asking him “what do you want us to do?”
It’s what the disciples were doing on the road to Emmaus. Asking this stranger what the crucifixion of Jesus meant. And he told them, and then he showed them in the breaking of the bread.
Which is why we come to the Church of San Onofrio for the Sunday Mass of our Pilgrimage.
We’re not the first to make a pilgrimage to this site seeking God. Indeed, the Church was built on the side of an old hermitage of Blessed Nicholas of Forca Palena, who is buried under this altar. Blessed Nicholas came here, as did the monks who followed him, to find the God who made him, and ask “what do you want me to do?”
It was easy for us to get here with the escalators in that big modern parking garage, but for Nicholas and those monks there was a donkey track along the ridge of the hill just to the west of here which ran to the Porta San Pancrazio, and then there was a very steep footpath (the present Via di Sant'Onofrio) which plunged down the hill to the river, and then continued along the riverbank. Each times the monks ascended this hill they took their lives in their hands!
But they did it, because they wanted to find the God who made them and ask him “what do you want me to do?” It’s why Godfrey de Bouillon sold all his possessions and joined the crusades and it is why you came on this pilgrimage, like the disciples to Emmaus and Blessed Nicholas climbing up the hill and our founder on his way to Jerusalem: to find the God who made you and ask him “what do you want me to do?”