June 20th, 1932

Wed, Jun 20, 2012, 01:00

FROM THE ARCHIVES:The religious enthusiasm associated with the 1932 Eucharistic Congress began before the papal legate, Cardinal Lorenzo Lauri, arrived in Ireland. This was the scene in London when his train from Folkestone stopped to change engines. –

FULLY TWO hours before the train was expected at Addison road station, Kensington people began to arrive. They belonged to every station in life – priests, nuns, silk-hatted men, beautifully gowned women, middle-class people from the suburbs, and men and women in threadbare clothes. The crowd soon grew until every inch of the platform, of the roadway leading up to the station, and of the bridges and steps was filled with men, women and children.

s the giant locomotive steamed into view a priest rose on a chair in the centre of the throng and exhorted the people to sing God Bless the Pope. They sang, and their voices echoed through dusty streets near by. Then cheer after cheer, a ring of reverence, went up from this huge assembly.

Slowly the train steamed in, and the Cardinal, a white-haired, kindly-faced man, was seen leaning from a carriage window. He smiled joyfully as he faced his extraordinary congregation.

As the representative of the Holy Father stepped from the train men, women and children fell on their knees and bowed as one. Then, with infinite grace, the Cardinal blessed his people. He was led through a hand-to-hand guard of the Knights of St Columbus to the waiting nuns from Nazareth House and St Vincent de Paul. These he blessed one by one, with the smile still lighting his face. Then he turned and was led along the edge of the packed platform.

It was now that indescribable turmoil gripped the throng. Men and women fought to kiss the holy ring on the Cardinal’s finger, and others grovelled on the ground to kiss his robes or strived to get within his presence. Girls and women cried, laughed and sang; men shouted and wept, completely losing self-control. For an instant it seemed that the Cardinal would be crushed, but the police were powerful, and so were the frocked bodyguard who had come from Rome to protect the Papal Legate. Somehow, the Cardinal was led back to the door of the train. As soon as he was inside he again lent from the window. This was a sign for hundreds of hands to offer their beads of the Rosary and other emblems for his blessing.

By now the train started to move off.

Police with helmets awry, and with perspiration pouring down their faces, struggled to prevent this astonishing crowd from being crushed against the side of the moving train. The people were singing now Faith of our Fathers, and cheer after cheer was given. As the train gently pulled out the Cardinal, still leaning from the window, blessed all those within sight of him.

It was only by a gigantic effort of the part of porters and other railwaymen and police that many of the people were stopped from walking along the line in the wake of the train.

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