On Wednesday morning (August 22) our pilgrimage was the first group at the baths where we took part in the water gesture – since the pandemic, immersion in the baths does not take place and the water gesture seeks to replicate the actions of St Bernadette when she uncovered the spring at the grotto. Pilgrims are invited to enter the baths and can now enter either individually or in a small group, such as with family members. Once in the baths you are given time to pray and then the water gesture takes place in three parts with water being poured into your cupped hands on each occasion, firstly to wash your hands, secondly to wash your face and thirdly to drink. While we were going through, the Rosary was prayed and music was played by our musicians.
In the late morning we had the opportunity to walk through the grotto to see the spring and to touch its walls – the very place of the apparitions.
That afternoon the heat was excessive and there was a heat warning in place and so the Way of the Cross was followed in venues in the hotels where it was cool and Mass was celebrated in the church of St Bernadette later in the afternoon. Our visit to the Cité St Pierre, where we had intended to celebrate Mass in the woodland amphitheatre, was called off due to the heat – God willing, we will be able to go there next year.
And so to our final full day in Lourdes. Once more there was a heat warning in place with temperatures rising above those of the previous day. The programme of events was altered so that everything could be finished before lunchtime. We had the exclusive use of the church of St Bernadette (Grotto side) `and a service of the Anointing of the Sick was followed, after a short break, by a celebration of the Mass with the Glanfield Group. At which Fr Peter Wygnanski of our diocese preached, the Catholic Association Pilgrimage Candle and our own East Anglian Pilgrims’ Candle were blessed and taken to the Candle chapels to be lit: this light, as it burns, shows our desire to remain in God’s presence as we go through our daily lives.
The afternoon was very hot and pilgrims were able to use the time to pack, to visit the Domaine, to shop for souvenirs or just to stay cool in their hotels.
On Friday morning, the departures began at 8:20am for those of us flying to Stansted. Unfortunately our plane was in Italy when we were ready to embark and so we had an impromptu singalong and a ‘picnic’ in the departures lounge before finally departing.
Pictured above is Fr Peter Wygnanski preaching at Lourdes and, below, Bishop Peter Collins in the torchlight procession.
Read our previous reports from Lourdes below.
More videos and pictures are available on the Diocese of Clifton website: https://cliftondiocese.com/pilgrimage/lourdes/