National pilgrimage of icon of Our Lady concludes in Clonard
HUNDREDS packed the streets of west Belfast at the weekend as a national pilgrimage of an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help came to its official end at Clonard Monastery.
The jubilee pilgrimage, which has seen the icon travel around the island aboard the so-called 'Mary mobile', marked 150 years of Redemptorist devotion.
A procession was held along the Falls Road on Saturday following 10am Mass in St Peter's Cathedral, with pilgrims bringing the icon to Clonard.
Father Noel Kehoe, the rector of Clonard, said the weekend had been an "amazing experience."
He told The Irish News: "When we arrived at Clonard on Saturday about 200-300 people were following behind it, and there were a further 300-400 people at Clonard when we got there."
"There was a fantastic feel and emotion to everything - you looked around and saw people with tears of emotion. It was very humbling to be involved."
On Saturday afternoon the icon was brought to Stormont for a "prayer for the new Assembly" as part of a joint initiative with Fitzroy Presbyterian Church.
After a visit to several nursing homes in west Belfast, it returned to Clonard for an all-night vigil before the official end of the pilgrimage with Mass at Clonard on Sunday.
The icon is due to leave Belfast on Wednesday, when it will return to Maynooth.
Fr Kehoe said: "It will go to Knock for August 15, when petitions from all over Ireland will be read out."
Meanwhile the annual Novena at Clonard will begin on June 15 with new times available on the Clonard Monastery website.