Monday, 31 July 2017

Art at the Accueil

Aime simplement avec un coeur universel et compatissant
- hospital stairwell at the Accueil St Frai
© Teresa Newham 

"Love simply with a universal and compassionate heart". These are the words which greet the visitor on entering the Accueil St Frai, the hospital which cares for pilgrims who need help while in Lourdes - the sick, the elderly and those with mobility problems. The stairwell, lit from above by a massive skylight, is hung with colourful stars and other cut-outs.

Holy Spirit image in the hallway at the Accueil St Frai
© Teresa Newham

It was a joy to find art displayed here - I was struck by this colourful, modern image portraying the Holy Spirit moving amongst hearts and flowers.  The St Frai is run by nuns, and each pilgrimage manages its own patients in the wing allocated to it.  The Westminster contingent included doctors, nurses and three teams of ward helpers.

Many hands make light work
© Teresa Newham

Pilgrimage is a full-on experience for even the fittest - there are Masses and other services to go to, visits to the Baths, the torchlight procession.  The patients knew how to pace themselves, deciding when to go out and when to rest.  One morning a banner was brought to our wing for those who had stayed behind to colour and decorate; some worked straight onto the cloth, others filled in paper templates of butterflies, birds and flowers which would be laminated and stuck on later.

Plenty of arts and crafts materials to assist the creation of the banner
© Teresa Newham

One of the patients had been a graphic artist, and coloured her flowers beautifully, outlining them with a fineliner for good measure, despite her arthritis.  It was wonderful to see everyone working together to produce this collaborative piece of art and craft; you could almost touch the sense of concentration round the table.  I added my contribution by colouring some berries and leaves . . .

Hospital patients and helpers colouring in
© Teresa Newham

The banner was paraded at the Grotto, where the Westminster Pilgrimage held its closing Mass.  The graphic artist in her wheelchair was positioned near the front, and I knew she would not be able to see the banner displayed to one side.  But Our Lady was with us - as we formed a queue to process through the Grotto we found ourselves right in front of it!

the finished banner on display at the Grotto
© Teresa Newham

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.


  1. A wonderful week. The banner looks breathtaking.

  2. Loved ready about your experience Teresa. Thank you for sharing.