Thursday, 14 February 2019

brollies and blessings

the Basilica viewed from between the trees
© Teresa Newham

Once again I'd been looking forward to the annual Parish Pilgrimage to Lourdes for Our Lady's feast day (11th February).  The twelve of us travelled light, but  packed for every eventuality; Lourdes sits in the foothills of the Pyrenees with its own micro-climate, so waterproofs and good shoes are a must.

nothing daunts the pilgrim to Lourdes
© Teresa Newham

This year we had a mixture of sunshine and showers; and some torrential rain as we prayed the open air Stations of the Cross.  The hairdryer in my hotel room came in handy for drying my socks and boots and gloves.  The sturdy rain mac I bought in Lourdes on an early visit covered the rest of me . . .

photo opp at Our Lady's statue
© Teresa Newham

We had daily Mass and, on the feast day itself, joined around 20,000 fellow pilgrims for an international Mass and a blessing of the sick, both in several languages. We went to the baths and to confession, prayed at the grotto and lit candles for the many people who had asked us to pray for them.

a priest, some nuns, a bemused onlooker
© Teresa Newham

The schedule also allowed for shopping; there are all sorts of shops in Lourdes, some of which sell the most amazing tat, often alongside beautiful religious artefacts.  I learnt long ago not to write off any of them; you'll find something, whether it's cheap and cheerful or of real quality.

shops crowded with religious artefacts and . . .  a Christmas tree?
© Teresa Newham

Finally, there was the torchlight procession: hundreds of pilgrims with candles, singing and praying the rosary as they followed the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes around the domain.  Coachloads of pilgrims departed overnight or the next morning as the shops and hotels prepared to close until Easter.

Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!

the rain stayed away for the torchlight procession
© Teresa Newham

1 comment:

  1. Always an intensely moving spiritual experience.