Today was the first day of the International Congress Pilgrimage of the Consecrated Virgins held in Rome. After registration, almost 500 consecrated virgins from 52 countries gathered for Vespers and Mass celebrated by an Archbishop of France and half a dozen other (arch)bishops and a couple dozen priests. While most of the consecrated virgins are those living in the world, also attending were certain religious who have received the consecration at the hands of their bishop. In addition, some hermitesses who are also consecrated virgins were in attendence.
Archbishop Raymond Burke and a panel of consecrated virgins from Germany, Italy, Spain, the USA, and France presided at the first series of presentations by consecrated virgins on the status of the vocation in their countries of Italy, Austria, Germany, Argentina, Finland, and Hungary. According to the reports thus far, the median age began fairly high as the Rite was re-instated only 30 years ago after about ten centuries of most disuse. However, the median age is rapidly dropping. Many virgins are receiving the consecration now at the average age of 35 years.
Tomorrow, the international pilgrimage congress group of consecrated virgins will be honored by a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI. More on that later… and pictures to follow.