Bishop Fintan Gavin has announced that the June 2020 pilgrimage from the diocese will take place from Friday 12th to Wednesday 17th June. Bishop Fintan will lead the pilgrimage over the five days. It’s a place where miracles and friendships happen.
Lourdes is a town of 14,000 residents on the banks of the River Gave in the shadow of the Pyrenees in the south of France. It’s a two and a half hour flight from Cork airport to Tarbes Airport and 20 minutes by bus to Lourdes.
Lourdes is visited by people from all parts of the world because of its famous Shrine to Our Lady. In 1858, Our Lady appeared to a local girl called Bernadette Soubirous.
On Thursday, 11th February, 1858, Bernadette went with her sister, Toinette-Marie (11 years) and a friend, Jeanne Abadie (13 years) to collect firewood. Afraid to follow the other two across the small canal, Bernadette paused and began to take off her stockings. She heard a gust of wind, but nothing moved. Then she saw a Lady at the cave nearby.
Later she recalled: “I saw a Lady dressed in white. She had a white dress girdled with a blue sash, and a yellow rose on each foot, the colour of the chain of her rosary. After that I rubbed my eyes. I thought I must be making a mistake. I put my hand in my pocket and took out my rosary.
“I tried to make the Sign of the Cross, but I could not lift my hand to my forehead. The Vision made the Sign of the Cross. Then my hand trembled. I tried, and was able to sign myself.
“I said the rosary. The Vision passed her beads through her fingers, but she did not move her lips. When I had finished my rosary, the Vision suddenly disappeared.”
Our Lady’s message to Bernadette which has been heard by millions since was simple: “Come, pray and wash”. So for centuries people having been traveling to Lourdes, praying there and bathing in the waters of the spring beside the shrine.
Lourdes welcomes people of all ages, all languages and all faiths. When the primary goal of a journey is a spiritual one, it’s called a ‘pilgrimage’. Here’s a good summary from ABC Australia.
Each summer, the Bishop of Cork and Ross leads a pilgrimage of people from the parishes of our diocese to Lourdes. Hundreds travel together from Cork.
They include people who have been regular pilgrims every year; people going for the first time; people going to pray for healing for themselves or a loved one or a friend; people giving of their professional skills to the many services that are required; people who look after the sick who travel.
Bishop Fintan Gavin has announced that the June 2020 pilgrimage from the diocese will take place from Friday 12th to Wednesday 17th June. Bishop Fintan will lead the pilgrimage over the course of the full five days.
All the travel arrangements are made by the travel agency appointed by the diocese (Joe Walsh Tours.). This includes direct flights from Cork and transfer by bus to Lourdes itself. Details of the flights and costs will be available soon.
Most people are accommodated in the hotels in Lourdes which are all within walking distance of the Shrine. The sick and people who require assistance are accommodated in part of a special hospital owned by the Shrine near the Grotto. The diocese rents the hospital for the duration of the pilgrimage.
All three meals during your stay in Lourdes are included in the cost of the pilgrimage.
The sick and people who require assistance have a primary place on the pilgrimage. All their needs are met through the kindness of the large team of volunteers who travel out with them.
The Lourdes pilgrimage is a large scale logistical challenge but which is professionally organised. Helpers are needed for the following roles:-
Medical Doctors, nurses, care assistants, cooks, cleaners, people to organise the food ingredients, people to push wheelchairs to and from ceremonies and shopping, people to play music and lead singing at ceremonies and at socials, people to serve food, people to wash-up after meals, people to make beds for the sick, people to spend time with those who need company, people to read and pray at Mass, people to help with managing rotas and timetables, people with social media skills to record and promote the pilgrimage, and lots more!
Training and preparation is provided to all volunteers. Each year’s pilgrimage is made up of people who are experienced and those who are learning.
A Day in Lourdes
There’s a lot to do in Lourdes and you won’t get it all done in one visit!
The essential elements of each day are:-
Some of the volunteers attend to the needs of the sick on a rota basis ensuring that everyone has free time, too.
Mass is celebrated in one of the many special churches in Lourdes and on one day we have Mass at the Grotto. Pilgrims are invited to take turns at singing, reading, ministering, assisting at Mass.
There are two processions in Lourdes each day – one with the Blessed Sacrament in the afternoon, and the Candle Light Procession with the Rosary at dusk. Join in as often or as little as you like.
On another day we also pray the Stations of the Cross in groups, we celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick together and we arrange for those who wish to have access to the special baths to be able to get there.
Meals are arranged in our respective hotels and people meet and mingle throughout the day in the cafes and bars throughout Lourdes. We’ve also been known to mingle with pilgrims from other places at night for a sing-song!
Come to Lourdes to find peace and to make friends!