• Monica Smit

Christus Rex Pilgrimage 2019 - Photos and more

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

Of the several pilgrimages I’ve been privileged to attend, the largest one is by far the Christus Rex, which is approximately 90 km from Ballarat to Bendigo in Victoria, Australia.

This year was the 29th anniversary and 520 pilgrims registered, and the numbers increase every year. This tells you one thing…it’s a great pilgrimage!

Christus Rex has it all! Most importantly it provided great spiritual experiences, is highly organized with medical assistance, bus and toilet services along the way, great home cooked meals (catering for alternative diets), and children’s activities.

Like any traditional Catholic event, the priests were always available for confession or a chat. We did a full rosary every day and had regular sermons to feed our souls. Conversations with fellow pilgrims were always edifying and enlightening. There is also an ‘all night adoration tent’ set up at each location and compline was offered every night at 9pm.

On the second day, there is a solemn high mass in the Australian bush…perhaps my favourite part of the whole event. It’s extremely emotional for most pilgrims. The feeling of joy and gratitude overflows within you. Seeing young children adoring the shrine of Our Lady, then watching suffering pilgrims kneel on the cold earth with a smile on their faces…is a memorable experience. At that moment, you know God loves you unconditionally and appreciates your efforts. You feel blessed that he allowed you to be here. In everyday life, it’s easy to become complacent, but right now, everything seems clearer. Knowing your fellow-pilgrims feel the same heightens these emotions.

The choir is outstanding! The atmosphere of a great choir changes a gloomy rainy day into something else. For me, just this aspect sets Christus Rex above the rest. The comradery is also something worth mentioning. To be fair, every pilgrimage I’ve attended has this, but with over 500 pilgrims it’s even easier to find people you can really connect with and learn from. Every night, there is the option to socialise at the local pub which is a great way to meet people. On the other hand, I heard a pilgrim say, “why would I go to a pub on a pilgrimage…I’ll wait till the end”. He might have a point, but no one should judge you either way.

On Sunday night, there is an organised venue for dinner and socialising. Monday morning after High Mass again in the Bendigo Cathedral, there’s a last breakfast gathering; it seems we’re reluctant to say goodbye after sharing such an exhilarating experience together. Seeing people say goodbye to their ‘pilgrimage friends’ is a heart-warming vision.

Next year will be the 30th anniversary so let’s assume it will be even bigger than this year. It'll be very important to register as soon as you have the chance to. For registration and more information, please visit - https://crex.org/wordpress/

My photo album can be found here - https://www.monicasmit.com/christus-rex

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