One of Ireland’s most sacred sites, Lough Derg, in County Donegal, has canceled its traditional three-day pilgrimage.
Thousands of pilgrims visit St Patrick’s Purgatory near Pettigo each summer.
The island has been a place of Christian worship for more than 1,500 years.
In the absence of the normal of the crowd, the front En The Flynn has maintained a solitary vigil on the island, keeping the tradition of prayer alive.
En had hoped that once coronavirus restrictions began to be lifted Lough Derg could be open to limiting the number of pilgrims, but that has now been ruled out.
Instead, people are invited to undertake three days of pilgrimage, ritual, and ” Lough Derg from where you are “, from 27 to 29 June.
Fr said that it would not be a “virtual pilgrimage” and the people who register on the Lough Derg website in advance were expected to perform the exercises of prayer and fasting for three days.
“People will remove their shoes, they will do their stations in their bare feet, they will observe three days of fast, they will keep the vigil, so it will be the full pilgrimage, but they will do it where they are,” he explained.
“Obviously, we’re not going to be the police, but they are on pilgrims honor, if they register and do all of this, let us know and we’ll offer some type of confirmation of that. “
‘Running a shebeen’
En said there is a historical precedent for the prior of Lough Derg to grant permission to make the pilgrimage from far away, in exceptional circumstances.
In 1921, approximately 250 republican prisoners asked for permission to perform the pilgrimage of the year while they were inmates in a prison camp in Ballykinlar in County Down.
In 1923, the same request was made by 194 republican interned aboard the prison ship Argenta, moored in the port of Belfast Lough.
He said that it was a way for the people, some of whom come to Lough Derg each year, to continue the tradition.
This is only the second time in two centuries, the pilgrimage has not taken place.
En The recalled the previous meeting was, in 1828, in response to a very different type of crisis.
“The pilgrims who came were being overcharged and were treated poorly by the boatmen.
“A colourful side of the story is that the spirit of initiative of the boatmen were running a shebeen and make Poitín and sell them to the pilgrims, would you believe.
“So, in advance, have been put at the end of her tether, decided that he was going to close the pilgrimage for that year, 1828, and it had the desired effect. ”
Father, said The BBC News OR its isolation on the island since the 1st of June has been a time of reflection.
“Nobody forced me to come here or to isolate myself here, I’m probably one of the safest people in the country, in terms of isolation,” he said.
He said that he had chosen to be on the island and he felt a ” prayer of solidarity with so many people who had no choice in this matter, and who therefore had to bear to be isolated and to find the resources necessary to see through “.
En said that hundreds of people have sent requests for prayer at Lough Derg during the crisis ” many of them in connection with the coronavirus “.
“Some are for people who are sick, some facing the loss of a loved one in corona.
“More people who simply want the Lord’s help to be able to withstand and be able to pass through, and let go of the anxieties that this time has raised very many people. ”
A Covid-19 memorial book will also be placed in the Church of Sainte-Marie on the Island Resort for those who have lost their lives.
“I have the impression that outside of those who have lost someone that there maybe will be a bit of mourning to do about all of this and the cost that this has been,” said Fr.
“We try to respond to this totally unique time and respond, if it pleases God, so as to be in harmony with the man of Nazareth and the values that he accomplished for us and that we try to live here. ”
Lough Derg is the intention to open in a limited way on the shore of the lake from the July 6 and can offer days of retreat on the island later in the year.