22 July 2021
In January this year, Pope Francis instituted a Church-wide celebration of a World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.
This special day takes place this Sunday 25 July, close to the liturgical memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.
The chosen theme is “I am with you always”.
Today, the Vatican has released Pope Francis’ message for the first ever World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.
Pope Francis has also granted a plenary indulgence to grandparents, the elderly, and all those who participate in a solemn celebration of this day
as well as to those who spend time (actually or virtually) with an elderly brother or sister in need on this day.
In this message, His Holiness speaks of the challenges that elderly people and grandparents have faced over the past year, but that God is always close to them.
The Lord is aware of all that we have been through in this time. He is close to those who felt isolated and alone, feelings that became more acute during the pandemic. Tradition has it that Saint Joachim, the grandfather of Jesus, felt estranged from those around him because he had no children; his life, like that of his wife Anne, was considered useless. So the Lord sent an angel to console him. While he mused sadly outside the city gates, a messenger from the Lord appeared to him and said, “Joachim, Joachim! The Lord has heard your insistent prayer”. Giotto, in one of his celebrated frescoes, seems to set the scene at night, one of those many sleepless nights, filled with memories, worries and longings to which many of us have come to be accustomed.
Even at the darkest moments, as in these months of pandemic, the Lord continues to send angels to console our loneliness and to remind us: “I am with you always”. He says this to you, and he says it to me. That is the meaning of this Day, which I wanted to celebrate for the first time in this particular year, as a long period of isolation ends and social life slowly resumes. May every grandfather, every grandmother, every older person, especially those among us who are most alone, receive the visit of an angel!
At times those angels will have the face of our grandchildren, at others, the face of family members, lifelong friends or those we have come to know during these trying times, when we have learned how important hugs and visits are for each of us. How sad it makes me that in some places these are still not possible!
You can see the Holy Father’s message in full by watching the video below.
The annual Grandparents Pilgrimage will take place at Knock Shrine this Sunday 25 July to coincide with this special day.
The pilgrimage Mass will take place at Knock Basilica, commencing with Rosary at 2.30pm and Mass at 3pm.
The Mass will streamed live on our Watch page.