Pope Francis greets a patient during an unannounced visit Jan. 5 to children at the Palidoro Bambino Gesu Hospital, in Fiumicino, outside Rome. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

World Day of the Sick Mass

1 p.m., Feb. 10
Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, 6351 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix
Those attending can receive the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.The Mass will be broadcast live on:
  • EWTN
  • AZTV Channel 7
The Mass will also be livestreamed on:



Richard Hannon, president of the Order of Malta in Phoenix, was once diagnosed with a serious blood disorder that prompted him to receive the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick three times. He said its properties are immense.

“Having gone through it, the Sacrament of the Sick has been an incredible comfort and blessing. Knowing your sins are forgiven and that prayers are being offered for your healing is a tremendous blessing,” he explained, adding he finds peace and comfort each time he’s received the sacrament.

Hannon added how beneficial it is “to hear about forgiveness of sins and that He does love you. However difficult (your situation) is, it’s easier to understand. There is a powerful sense of support; that you are not alone.”

The Order of Malta, a global lay religious order founded in 1048 whose two-fold mission is defense of the Catholic faith and service to the poor and the sick, is organizing the annual World Day of the Sick Mass Saturday, Feb. 10, at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. The Mass, one of many around the world that day, will also be broadcast live via the ETWN network and AZTV Channel 7.

The ill, especially those with chronic or life-threatening conditions, as well as their caregivers, are invited to attend the special liturgy.

“It’s one of our highlights of the year,” said Michael Grace, chancellor of the Sovereign Order of Malta Western Association in the United States, which organizes the annual Mass. “It’s a treasure to be with them and pray with them. We see it as a response to a call from our Blessed Mother.”

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A military member holds a candle in front of the statue of Mary at the grotto at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in southwestern France in this May 17, 2014 file photo. About 60 wounded U.S. military personnel, together with family members and caregivers, were a part of the annual International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Sovereign Order of Malta

The Order of Malta is a worldwide, lay, religious order of the Roman Catholic Church, which seeks to glorify God by promoting the sanctification of each member through his or her work with the sick and the poor and defense of the Catholic faith. Founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century, the Order of Malta has a long history of service to the vulnerable and the sick.


Instituted 26 years ago by Pope St. John Paul II as a vehicle for prayers and a blessing for the sick, the World Day of the Sick coincides with the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Feb. 11. The latter commemorates a series of 18 apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old peasant girl in Lourdes, France, in 1858. During one of the appearances, she directed Bernadette to a spring whose waters have since been consumed by thousands of visitors who report curing of medical conditions through the water and prayer.

“Anointing of the Sick goes back to earliest days of Church, when the Apostles directed that if someone was sick, they be brought forward,” said Grace. “The core is about healing, not just about physical, but complete healing — body, mind and soul.”

The Mass has historically drawn individuals in wheelchairs, some battling cancer, the frail and the elderly, as well as children with serious illnesses. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and about a dozen priests will anoint each person with holy oil following the liturgy.

Dcn. Peter Auriemma of St. Joan of Arc Parish, a retired doctor, former chief of urology with the Veterans Administration in Phoenix and a Knight in the Order of Malta, said the sacrament’s reach has broadened over the years. Dcn. Auriemma said the sacrament, formerly known as Extreme Unction — covers an array of medical and spiritual issues that has grown with time.

“People who are going to have surgery, chronic pain, illnesses; it’s not just the person who looks like they’re going to die. It’s no longer for the final moments of a person’s life,” Dcn. Auriemma said.

A religious sister is seen comforting a sick woman in 2016 at Snehadam Old Age Home in Gurgaon, India. (CNS photo/courtesy John E. Kozar, CNEWA)

Pope Francis recently addressed the Church’s role in ministering to the ill.

“Jesus bestowed upon the Church His healing power: ‘These signs will accompany those who believe … they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover’ (Mk 16:17-18)”, the pontiff wrote in his annual World Day of the Sick message. “The Church’s mission is a response to Jesus’ gift, for she knows that she must bring to the sick the Lord’s own gaze, full of tenderness and compassion.”

That mission is held up by the Order of Malta, which works in more than 120 countries in medical care and humanitarian aid. It also conducts annual pilgrimages to the miraculous healing waters first introduced to St. Bernadette.

“The Order has been taking the sick to Lourdes for 40 years, and one of the desires has been to try to bring Lourdes to more people. Most people will never go to Lourdes,” Hannon said.

Those attending will receive small bottles of water directly from the spring in Lourdes and special medals blessed by Bishop Olmsted. There will also be an opportunity to fill out prayer petitions that will be hand-delivered to the grotto in Lourdes during the order’s 2018 pilgrimage in May. Immediately following the Mass will be a health fair, and complimentary valet parking will be provided for the