WE have nearly reached the end of our typical pilgrimage to the Cape with Good Father Frederick. There remains only the closing ceremony, which one observer called "the most moving moment of the whole day" : the solemn Consecration of all the pilgrims to the Queen of the Holy Rosary. We shall now describe this very impressive event in the recorded words of several witnesses.
It was at the Consecration that Good Father Frederick was most admired and most appreciated. It took place in the afternoon, after the solemn procession which followed the Way of the Cross, either outdoors in front of the old Shrine or within the little chapel, at the feet of the Madonna.
With tears in his eyes as he stood look-ing up at Mary, the holy friar expressed in an improvised prayer all the love and gratitude that was in everyone's heart. Allowing his own intense feelings of faith and love to over-flow, he set forth the needs of the poor, the sick, and the afflicted. And for all of them he implored the powerful help and protection of our sweet Mother in Heaven, as he liked to call Mary. He asked for the conversion of poor sinners, and begged her to grant special blessings to all the different kinds of pilgrims. He prayed for them as a group and for each individual too. As one of them wrote : "He did not overlook a single one of our needs or sorrows. We were all included in his thoughts, and we all felt that he understood us and was referring to us personally."
EVERYONE repeated Good Father Frederick's words in his own heart. So great were his devotion and confidence, and so sincere were his prayers to Mary, that they seemed to be inspired by Heaven.
His emotion was contagious. As he look-ed up at Mary so beseechingly, it seemed as if a wave of love and tenderness poured down over the crowd from the feet of her statue and ran through the rows of kneeling pilgrims like an electric current. Soon all — men, women, and children — were weeping with Good Father Frederick, and only the sound of their sobs was to be heard, as it rose like a mighty supplication toward the heart of their beloved Queen. Everyone present wanted to love her as Good Father Frederick did ... In such moments one's feelings are beyond description. In order to understand them, one must have felt them oneself, one must have mingled with the pilgrims and prayed and sung and rejoiced with them. Such moments belong rather to Heaven than to this world.
We are told that "this happened nearly every time Good Father Frederick performed the Consecration ... I have often witnessed this sight, and each time it moved me as deeply as the first time. Those who have once seen it have never forgotten it. They still speak of it several years after their pilgrimage."
To be continued ...