The Annual St Willibrord Hopping Procession attracts visitors from far and wide, not unlike the festive atmosphere of St Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Pilgrims from this Diocese gathered on Tuesday last with about 12,000 other Christians from Roman Catholic, Anglican, Old Catholic and Orthodox traditions to remember the life of St Willibrord and celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Firstly, the Anglicans joined the Old Catholic pilgrims to Echternach for a Service of Holy Communion. Bishop Michael Burrows played the organ to accompany the Dutch, German, Irish and local worshippers singing ‘Alleluia, sing to Jesus’.
Back on the streets everyone gathered outside the Basilica of St Willibrord along with 38 other groups, each with their own bands, some brass, some not, like our our traditional Presentation Band from Carlow. Carrying white neckerchiefs between us, we hopped from one foot to the other dancing to a catchy polka through the streets of what is the oldest city in Luxembourg.
In spite of heavy rain, Irish spirits were undampened as pilgrims lined up behind the Carlow Presentation Band. RTL, the national TV broadcaster, interviewed them for the evening news.
The rain stopped just as the band struck up and our turn to process came – hopping along in formation, 5 abreast! Crowds lined the streets and residents took advantage of upstairs windows to watch the long Procession – it could have been a St Patrick’s Day Parade, minus floats and vintage tractors!
Local members of the St Willibrord Foundation generously provided a fine three course lunch to the throngs of pilgrims who finished the Hopping Procession back at the secondary school refectory beside the Basilica.
“The symbolism of the Procession was powerful in the context of Pentecost. In our worship earlier, we had, like the disciples in the upper room, been emboldened by the Holiday Spirit. Like St Willibrord, we heard the words of Jesus, ‘you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth’. (Acts1:8)
Report and photo: Trevor S.
Photo: Dean Tom Gordon, voted the best dancer from Ireland in the ‘hopping procession’.