“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Mt 9:37-38)
Just recently, here in Iceland, we read the chronicle from the IVE fathers in Brazil. Following the example of St. John Paul II, they did a walking pilgrimage to Our Lady of Aparecida in thanksgiving for the many Brazilian vocations that entered this year.
This inspired us to do the same in Iceland. We wanted to do a pilgrimage, first to implore Our Lady for Icelandic vocations to the priesthood and religious life and, second to thank her for the vocations we trust she will send. So, after we had our intention ready, the next question was: to where? There is no Marian sanctuary in Iceland. There is, however, a place called Maríulind (Mary´s spring), where it is said that Our Lady appeared in the year 1230. The story relates that She appeared to Guðmundur góði, a holy bishop, and asked him to bless the spring there, which he did. Since then, the spring has been known as a source of blessings for the people. About 30 years ago the Lutheran pastor in charge of that area placed a statue of Our Lady at the spring in memory of the apparition. This spring is located on the Snæfellnes peninsula, directly across the mountains from the last town where we teach catechism, Ólafsvík. Until now Maríulind has been mostly hidden and forgotten, known to little more than the locals and the faithful of our diocese. This site seemed to be the obvious destination for our pilgrimage.
To help paint the picture of the day of our hike, it is important to note that during these summer months there is normally sunlight all day and all night. This year, however, there has been less sunlight than there has been for the last 100 years. For the past two months we have seldom even seen the sun and the clouds have been heavy with rain. Nevertheless, we still do many outdoor activities knowing that if we waited for good weather we would run the risk of never leaving the house.
So, not taking the weather into account, we planned our pilgrimage for the first possible free day, which happened to fall on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. That Monday morning we set out for Ólafsvík, a little less than an hour away, and to our happy surprise the sun was shining! At our designated starting point a woman commented to us that we were really lucky to have such a beautiful day for our hike – it was the first we had had in months! We knew, of course, it wasn’t luck but that Our Lady had especially chosen and prepared this day for us. And so, we began our 25 km hike with good spirits ready to make sacrifices and offer them to Our Lady for priestly and religious vocations for the Universal Church but especially for our Religious Family and from Iceland. The day passed quickly as our hike was filled with rosaries, songs, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and even passages from a book about vocations and stories from the exemplary missionary, Segundo Llorente.
Though one might expect the dirt roads of the mountains to be abandoned and desolate, throughout the day we encountered groups of hikers and tourists who were surprised with the intention of our pilgrimage. They promised to pray for us and asked us to keep them in our prayers.
After an entire day of hiking we were worn out but very content. Having crossed the final part of the mountain, we arrived at Maríulind to greet Our Lady and place all of our intentions at her feet. We are confident that Our Lady has heard our petitions and will bless the Church with many holy priestly and religious vocations from Iceland. We ask you to unite your prayers with ours to implore Heaven to send “more laborers for his harvest”.
Ave María og áfram! (¡Ave María y adelante!)
SSVM Missionaries in Iceland