Pilgrims from across Europe will be retracing the steps of a 16th century Jesuit through Europe this April, as they prepare to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the Christian Life Community (CLC).
In 1556 Jean Leunis made a pilgrimage from Liege in Belgium to Rome to meet Saint Ignatius and to join the Society of Jesus. Six years later in Rome, Leunis founded 'Prima Primaria', which was the origin of the Sodality of Our Lady and the CLC. The 2013 pilgrimage - 450 years later - will be to emulate Leunis' journey to the foundation of what is known as the Ignatian lay companions.
The Pilgrimage is a great Catholic time-honoured tradition that came from the very roots of the Church. In a general way it reminds us that we are essentially pilgrims in life. Those who are influenced by Ignatian spirituality in particular follow Jesus in a particular road under the flag of the Eternal King, with the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius representing an internal pilgrimage divided in four stages or 'weeks' to find God's Love and answer His call. As part of the celebration of the Jubilee year of the 450th anniversary of the Ignatian Lay Communities, there will be one pilgrimage in four short stages, beginning in Belgium on 6 April. Further stages will take place in Switzerland and France, before the pilgrimage concludes in Rome with a Solemn Mass at which the Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr Adolfo Nicolás SJ, who is also the World Ecclesiastical Assistant of CLC, will officiate.
It was in 1563 that Jean Leunis, a Jesuit teacher, gathered a group of students of the Roman College for spiritual advancement, leading to the foundation of the Marian Congregation - or Sodality of Our Lady: a sodality is a group within the Universal Church which engages in a specialized task or common mission. The boys of the original Sodality agreed to daily mass, weekly confession, monthly Communion, a half-hour of meditation each day and to some other pious exercises.
They would also commit themselves to some form of service to the poor. Today, the Christian Life Community is an international association of Christians, men and women, adults and young people, of all social conditions, who want to follow Jesus Christ more closely and work with Him for the building of the Kingdom. Membership is made up of small groups, which are part of larger communities organized regionally and nationally, and which together form one World Community. The CLC is present in all five continents, in almost 60 countries - including the UKLink (here) to ICN