Chaplain Bill Simpson of Shawnee, Okla., prays with a patient undergoing testing for coronavirus April 23,2020, at SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital. Feb. 11 is the annual World Day of the Sick.
CNS photo/Nick Oxford, Reuters
Chaplain Bill Simpson of Shawnee, Okla., prays with a patient undergoing testing for coronavirus April 23,2020, at SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital. Feb. 11 is the annual World Day of the Sick. CNS photo/Nick Oxford, Reuters
" Our experience with the COVID pandemic throughout this past year has been a painful reminder of how deeply sickness and suffering affect the whole world.  " Bishop O'Connell

Today, February 11, is the 29th annual World Day of the Sick, established by Pope St. John Paul II on May 13, 1992.  

Although the day itself is not a liturgical celebration, its occurrence on the Memorial Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is not coincidental. The Holy Father’s legendary devotion to the Mother of God moved him to select this date on which the Church recalls her powerful intercession for the sick witnessed so often at the Grotto of Lourdes where she first appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous on February 11, 1858.

Our experience with the COVID pandemic throughout this past year has been a painful reminder of how deeply sickness and suffering affect the whole world.  This year’s World Day of the Sick gives us all in the Church the occasion to unite spiritually with our sick and suffering and to pray for their healing and strength.  We should also take this opportunity to express our gratitude to those who care for them so generously and so lovingly.

As reported by the Vatican News Service, Pope Francis reflected in his yearly message to mark the occasion, “A society is all the more human to the degree that it cares effectively for its most frail and suffering members, in a spirit of fraternal love.”  Jesus asks us to “stop and listen, to establish a direct and personal relationship with others, to feel empathy and compassion, and to let their suffering become our own as we seek to serve them.”

Pope Francis says that the annual day “is an opportunity to devote special attention to the sick and to those who provide them with assistance and care both in healthcare institutions and within families and communities.”  He expresses his spiritual closeness and the Church’s loving concern for those suffering the coronavirus pandemic, especially the poor and the marginalized. 

As Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, I invite you to join me in praying the Rosary today for those among us who are sick.

Our Lady of Lourdes, patron of the sick and suffering, pray for all those afflicted with illness at this time, especially those with COVID-19. Wrap your loving arms around them and their families as well as all those who care for them.

You can find the full text of the Pope's Message for the 29th World Day of the Sick at the Vatican website: Message of his Holiness Pope Francis for the XXIX World Day of the Sick 2021