article by Fr Terence Mary Naughtin, OFM Conv.:
The 2013 Christus Rex Pilgrimage saw over 200 pilgrims process from Ballarat to Bendigo, in honour of Christ the King.
Now in it's 23rd year, the Pilgrimage follows in similar traditions to its inspiration, the Paris to Chartres Pentecost Pilgrimage; Mass is celebrated in the extraordinary form daily, rosaries, prayers and hymns on the road which enable the Pilgrims to partake in fellowship in giving praise to the kingship of Christ.
Starting at St Patrick's Cathedral in Ballarat for a blessing, Pilgrims leave the country town to enter into the State Forest; a route change introduced last year which has become a highlight of the road experience. Over the following days Pilgrims walk through the small country towns of Creswick, Smeaton, Campbelltown, Newstead - sprinting up 'Heartbreak Hill' just outside of Lockwood South - before finally arriving on the steps of the majestic Sacred Heart Cathedral in Bendigo for the final Mass in honour of Christ the King.
As like last year, the Archdiocese of Sydney kindly loaned their Eucharistic Tent for the outdoor Mass in the woods of the small town of Campbelltown midway of the pilgrimage.
This year, we are very grateful to 3 bishops who shared part of the journey with us:
His Lordship, Bishop Paul Bird CSsR, bishop of Ballarat diocese, conferred the blessing to Pilgrims before sending them on their way;
His Lordship, Bishop Les Tomlinson, bishop of Sandhurst, received Pilgrims upon their arrival at Bendigo, Sacred Heart Cathedral, to welcome them home from their travels, and finally
His Lordship, Bishop Peter Elliot, auxillary bishop of the archdiocese of Melbourne, celebrated the Solemn High Mass in honour of Christ the King.
Furthermore, we were blessed to be joined by 12 priests along our journey, 2 of which were newly ordained, Fathers Ashley Caldow and James Kerr - what a wonderful surprise and grace for Pilgrims to be able to receive not just 1 but 2 blessings from the new ordinants! The participation of these great priests are a testimony that this Pilgrimage has become engrained in the Catholic community of Australia; for priests to leave their parish communities for 3 days to join with the Pilgrims in prayer and legwork!
The 24th annual Christus Rex Pilgrimage will be held on 24th to 26th October 2014. For more information and photos visit the website www.crex.org