This year the Rosary Crusade of Reparation marked 25 years since the first Crusade in 1985. The Abbot of Farnborough, Dom Cuthbert Brogan, OSB, led the Jubilee Crusade on October 16.
Abbot Philip Lawrence, superior of the Abbey of Christ in the Desert, New Mexico, assisted Dom Cuthbert.
There were also two 25-year-old junior professed monks from Farnborough Abbey in Hampshire, two priests from the Fraternity of St Peter, a couple of Southwark priests, six members of the Order of Malta, two Knights of Our Lady, six Brothers of the Little Oratory and assorted clergy servers and flower girls.
All were ably marshalled by Gordon Dimon, the Crusade Master of Ceremonies.
Exactly a month after the arrival of the Holy Father in Britain, the Crusade once again took religion into the public square.
The procession began with three cheers for Pope Benedict XVI before the Abbot of Farnborough intoned the Credo to begin the praying of the Holy Rosary. Through the busy streets of Westminster, Knightsbridge and Kensington, a vast throng of more than 2,000 faithful made quite an impact on the crowds of shoppers.
The Crusade began in brilliant sunshine beside Westminster Cathedral and made its way to the London Oratory with its new chapel to Blessed John Henry Newman. Hymns to Our Lady delighted shoppers on Sloane Street, Knightsbridge and the Brompton Road.
As the procession passed Knightsbridge Underground station, a well dressed young man asked permission to join the procession. The members of the Catholic Police Guild, led by Tony O’Brien, shouldered the bier carrying the statue of Our Lady of Fatima surrounded by a sea of flowers.
The procession took a full hour to travel the mile and a half between the two great churches. As the procession entered Knightsbridge, a short rain shower tried to dampen enthusiasm, but the Lourdes Hymn kept spirits high and many of the pilgrims waved their hymn books in imitation of the handkerchiefs waived during the processions at Fatima. The statue of Our Lady was met at the door of the Oratory by Fr Ronald Creighton-Jobe, chaplain to the Crusade, along with a team of more Brothers of the Little Oratory. The servers, flower girls, Brothers of the Little Oratory, Knights of Malta, Knights of Our Lady, clergy and the statue waited outside the church while the faithful found seats inside, if they could: the vast Church was packed. Then a grand procession made its way to the sanctuary while 2,000 voices sang the beautiful hymn, “Hail Queen of Heaven”.
The procession might be over, but the praying wasn’t – many hymns, prayers, a reading from the Apocalypse and a sermon from the Abbot of Farnborough was crowned by Solemn Pontifical Benediction given by the abbot.
The hymn Faith of Our Fathers written by Fr Faber, ended the Crusade proper which was followed by enrolment in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Everyone agreed it was wonderful day and they looked forward eagerly to next year.