Reek Sunday, Pilgrimage on Irelands Holiest Mountain
Every year on Reek Sunday, the last Sunday in July, up to 30,000 Catholic pilgrims climb Ireland's Holiest Mountain, Croagh Patrick. Also known as "The Reek," the mountain was the site of St. Patricks 40 day fast on the summit in 441 A.D. He was said to have banished all snakes from Ireland during this time. Many climbers partake in the pilgrimage as an act of penance, or for the benefit of a sick loved one. Traditionally, some of the pilgrims climb in their bare feet. Mass is celebrated every half hour on the summit by Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam. People of all ages and abilities make the difficult climb, some having done so 40-60 times.