Virtual Lourdes Pilgrimage 2020

Every year during the last week of August, parishioners from all over Clifton diocese embark on the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. The group is led by Bishop Declan and our pilgrims come from all over the diocese, they are differing ages and physical abilities. Some are regular pilgrims who travel with us every year, whilst some are coming for the first time, others come along especially to help those who are less able on the journey, a few spend time being official volunteer helpers at the sanctuary but all come because they are called by Our Lady in order to get close to her Son.

 

This year we will be re-living last year’s Pilgrimage as well as bringing the spirit of Lourdes directly to you. With a selection of masses, prayer-time and reflections available online throughout the week, it will be as if you’re right there in the Domain as usual.

“It is disappointing that we had to cancel the annual pilgrimage to Lourdes this year.  However, I hope a number of you are able to make the pilgrimage virtually through the Diocesan website.  Though not present in Lourdes we can imagine ourselves at the Grotto.  Perhaps you could say a special Rosary every day at the invitation of Our Lady and pray especially for peace in our world and for those who are suffering from Coronavirus.  I look forward to the pilgrimage next year.”
Bishop Declan

 

See below to relive the 2019 Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes as well as extra prayers and Reflections specially prepared for this year – Every day we will be posting videos and Reflections as if the Pilgrimage were actually happening!

You can also see a live video feed from the Grotto below.

Day one, departure day

Every year during the last week of August, parishioners from all over Clifton diocese embark on the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. The group is led by Bishop Declan and our pilgrims come from all over the diocese, they are differing ages and physical abilities. Some are regular pilgrims who travel with us every year, whilst some are coming for the first time, others come along especially to help those who are less able on the journey, a few spend time being official volunteer helpers at the sanctuary but all come because they are called by Our Lady in order to get close to her Son.

This year, the pilgrimage was scheduled to leave for Lourdes today, we would be leaving Bristol around 3:00 pm to catch an overnight ferry. Sadly, due to the current restrictions the pilgrimage has had to be cancelled this year, so over the next week, we would like to share with you some of our experiences from last year.

As with all good pilgrimages, we gather together to start our journey with Mass. We meet at St Therese of Lisieux Parish, Filton in Bristol. All are invited to the Mass which is celebrated by Bishop Declan and the other priests and deacons who are travelling with us to Lourdes.

Following our Mass, those travelling by coach or the Jumbulance board their vehicles and we set off for the overnight journey to Lourdes. The remainder of our group leave on Friday by air to join with us at our chosen hotels in Lourdes the following afternoon.

Day two – travel and arrival

Had we been able to travel to Lourdes this year the two vehicles that would have left Bristol yesterday, would be travelling through France today. The first a luxury coach, with a lift for any wheelchair passengers to board the coach and of course an onboard toilet! The second is the Jumbulance, this is a specialised coach, which is fitted with eight beds and a number of very adjustable seats for those pilgrims who need a higher level of assistance. There is also an onboard kitchen and accessible toilet. We have a number of able-bodied helpers travelling on this coach including a number of medical staff who give up their personal holiday time to volunteer.

A number of pilgrims may choose to fly, and they leave Bristol Airport in the morning and arrive at Toulouse just after lunch, where there is a coach waiting to take them to their hotels in Lourdes.

There is a choice of two hotels, both are no more than 100 metres from the entrance to the Sanctuary and are adjacent to each other, and a small number of our pilgrims stay in the “Accueil” which is a hospital within the Sanctuary itself.

We all arrive at our hotels mid to late afternoon. Once all have cleaned up and unpacked, we have our meal, with the evening free to relax and for those energetic and adventurous enough to explore the town or make a first visit to the Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary at Lourdes has been hit very badly this year due to the restrictions on social distancing and gatherings. They are unable to celebrate Mass in any of the three Basilicas on the sanctuary and at present they are unable to hold the daily processions and sadly the baths are still closed. Over recent weeks they have been able to celebrate some Masses at the Grotto with a much reduced number of people, and the rosary is prayed throughout the day in different languages. In place of the rosary procession there is a rosary with candles prayed every evening at 8.00 pm UK time. If you would like to join in live, you can watch on the live feed below.

Please keep the Sanctuary in your prayers that we will soon be able to once again go in procession to the Grotto as Our Lady asked. Also the town and people of Lourdes rely heavily on the sanctuary for their livelihoods, there are approximately two hundred hotels, many are family owned, along with all the support services and retail shops, so please keep the people of Lourdes in your prayers that their difficulties will soon come to an end.

Day three – Saturday

Gospel: Luke 6:17. 20-26; Happy are you who are poor. Yours is the kingdom of God.

Bishop Declan gives us his opening Reflection

Bishop Alan Hopes gives the first Homily

Once we are in Lourdes, we join with a group of dioceses from England called the Catholic Association, they are the dioceses of Southwark, Northampton, East Anglia, along with Stonyhurst College, HCPT and Glanfield Children’s group. This means that we have around 500 pilgrims and allows us to use the full facilities within the Sanctuary for our main liturgies.

As we are unable to be in Lourdes this year, Bishop Declan has this message for us

It is disappointing that we had to cancel the annual pilgrimage to Lourdes this year.  However, I hope a number of you are able to make the pilgrimage virtually through the Diocesan website.  Though not present in Lourdes we can imagine ourselves at the Grotto.  Perhaps you could say a special Rosary every day at the invitation of Our Lady and pray especially for peace in our world and for those who are suffering from Coronavirus.  I look forward to the pilgrimage next year – Bishop Declan.

People go on Pilgrimage for many different reasons. It might be to pray for a particular request, to seek help with a particular situation, to say thank you for blessings already received, out of some sort of curiosity, to rekindle a faith that may have been lost or to deepen a faith that is already there.

Our first Mass together celebrated in the St Pius X Basilica was an opportunity to thank God for bringing us safely to Lourdes.  The readings and hymns reminded us of the pastoral theme of the Pilgrimage “Happy are you who are poor”.  Bernadette was a sickly, uneducated girl from perhaps the town’s poorest family, yet this was the child chosen to be an earthly bridge with the divine.

At Mass, the hands of the volunteer helpers who serve the assisted pilgrims, were anointed as a sign of God’s blessing on their work.   These volunteer helpers, who are pilgrims themselves, strive to encounter Jesus in each pilgrim, caring for their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It is always humbling and heartening to witness in Lourdes the selfless commitment of many thousands of people who give of themselves so generously to help those who are struggling.  

Lourdes is very simply, a coming together of faith and suffering.  The result is great joy.  We pray that our prayers during this coming week will bring joy, and bear fruit for all in our parishes, and that we will once again, as a pilgrimage, be able to be with Our Lady in Lourdes next year.

You can see and hear Bishop Declan’s opening welcome from last year on the video on the left of this page. 

Saturday Pictures

Lourdes Pilgrimage 2019 – Saturday

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Day four – Sunday

Gospel: Luke 6:17. 20-26; Happy are you who are poor. Yours is the kingdom of God.

Mgr Liam gives us his Reflection for Sunday

Torchlight procession with Fr Michael

Sunday International Mass and Rosary Procession

On the Sunday morning last year, we were in the Underground Basilica, among a congregation of about 20,000, for our International Mass.  It was a Mass where different nations, cultures and backgrounds came together to worship and where we were united as children of God.  As people from many countries and continents prayed in many different languages, there was a shared spirit of faith. No matter how different we may be or where we come from, everyone is joined together in unity for the celebration of the Eucharist.

Present on the sanctuary were relics of St Bernadette and these were carried in procession to the Grotto after Mass. They were in Lourdes last year because 2019 marked the 175th anniversary of the birth of St Bernadette and the 140th anniversary of her death.

After a free afternoon and some relaxation time, we re-formed as a diocesan group for our evening liturgy as we joined the nightly torchlight procession where we recited the Rosary and sang the Ave Maria of Lourdes with believers from many different countries.  The procession was led by Diocesan and Regional banner-carriers and began near the Massabielle Grotto, continued around the Esplanade and ended in the Rosary Square. A large illuminated statue of the Virgin Mary, carried by volunteers, was also part of the procession. Most participants carried a candle and the Glorious mysteries were introduced in several languages and the Rosary prayers recited in each individual’s native tongue, giving a real sense of the universal nature of the Church.  During the procession, our pilgrims experienced the special atmosphere of peace and devotion as the candles filled the square with light.  It was a prayerful and reflective end to our day.

Sunday Pictures

Lourdes 2019 – Sunday

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Day five – Monday

Grotto Mass Gospel: Luke 2: 22.39-40; The presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Penitential Service Gospel: Luke 19:1-10 The Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost

Mgr Liam gives us a Reflection for today

Bishop Peter Doyle Grotto Mass Homily

Bishop Peter Doyle gives us a reflection

Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes -Day five – Monday – Grotto, Reconciliation & Procession.

Our Monday morning began with a votive Mass for Mary at the Grotto. This is, for many, one of the highlights of the week as it gives pilgrims the opportunity to celebrate at the spot where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette in 1858.  It was at the Grotto that Mary promised happiness to Bernadette “not in this world but in the next”.

In his homily, Bishop Peter Doyle from the Northampton Diocese, encouraged us to do what Jesus did and to put our faith into action by reaching out to others, especially those who are neglected by the outside world.  We joined our prayers with the prayers of the many thousands of others who have visited the Grotto since the first apparition. Conscious of so many who have asked for prayers in Lourdes, we bring all our petitions to Mary, remembering the intentions of those who are close to our hearts, those who are most in need and those who are at home.

During the apparitions, Our Lady asked Bernadette to do penance and to pray for sinners.  Our Reconciliation Service on Monday afternoon, which was a celebration of the loving mercy of God, gave us the opportunity to examine our lives and to ask God for his strength and forgiveness in times when we have failed to love Him and our neighbour.  Many of us took the opportunity to be reconciled with God through the receiving of the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the afternoon penitential service. Of course, confession is available every day in the sanctuary with a number of priests and in many languages.   Aware of our failings, we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us as we reflect on our need for God’s mercy and we pray that we may continue to strive for reconciliation and peace in our daily lives.

Monday’s programme ended with the Blessed Sacrament procession which takes place every afternoon during the main pilgrimage season.  The procession fulfilled Our Lady’s request to “Come in procession” to Lourdes.  During the procession, pilgrims processed, either by foot, in wheelchairs, on stretchers or in hospital chariots, from the Adoration Altar on the Domain Prairie, to the Underground Basilica of St Pius X, where the Archbishop carried the monstrance to all the pilgrims around the basilica. As the Archbishop stopped at each section all were blessed by our Lord truly present in the blessed Sacrament.  The procession was a journey of faith in which we walked alongside Jesus, asking for his healing, blessing and guidance. We pray that each came away from this pilgrimage with a new sense of direction, following the path that the Lord wants us to travel.                                                                                        

Monday Pictures

Lourdes 2019 Blessed Sacrament Procession

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Day six- Tuesday

Day in Bartres

Bishop Crispian gives us his personal Reflection

Bishop Declan’s Homily in Bartres

Our day out in Bartres including Mass

Richard King talks about Hosanna House

Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes – Day four – Tuesday, Bartres.

As well as time for peace, prayer, penance and privation, pilgrimage has always had an element of fun and relaxation to it.  On the Tuesday our Clifton Pilgrims had the opportunity to visit Bartres, a small village on the outskirts of Lourdes where Bernadette spent two short periods of her life.  The first was when her mother was unable to feed her and she had to be wet nursed by a woman named Marie Lagues who had lost her own child. The second was when she was sent back to work for Marie Lagues at the age of thirteen, a year before the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Bernadette was there to look after the sheep and be the baby minder, but her chores soon developed into the housework too. There was no teaching of the catechism or preparation for her first Holy Communion, which Bernadette so longed for, this made Bernadette’s life unbearable and on her Sunday visit home on January 17th 1858, she told her family that she was not going back and that she wanted desperately to make her First Holy Communion. She soon returned to Lourdes.

The Bartres visit offered a different way of getting close to Bernadette and her story.  Our Diocesan Mass was celebrated by Bishop Declan and concelebrated by Bishop Crispian Hollis (retired Bishop of Portsmouth), Bishop Christopher Budd (retired Bishop of Plymouth) and our own Diocesan priests. On many pilgrimages we hold our Mass in the church in the church of St. John the Baptist in Bartres where Bernadette used to attend while she lived in the village. However, last year our Mass was held in Hosanna House, a residential centre owned by HCPT – The Children’s Pilgrimage Trust.  It is a purpose built villa, where groups of disabled and disadvantaged pilgrims can stay with their helpers throughout the year.  In the centre of the villa is a beautiful chapel with stunning views of the Pyrenees mountains

Each year our Mass is followed by a Diocesan meal together in a local restaurant, where we are able to continue our celebrations and enjoy each other’s company before returning to Lourdes with an evening of free time.

Late in the evening (around midnight) a small but adventurous group left the hotel to visit the Grotto. A lovely time to be at the Grotto, a time of peace, and away from the crowds of the day, when you can have a few moments by the spring or maybe to stand where St Bernadette stood and gaze up at Our Lady just as she did.  A good time for some quiet reflection or personal prayer.

Tuesday Pictures

Lourdes 2019 – Tuesday – Bartres Day Out

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Day seven – Wednesday

Gospel: Matthew 5: 1-12 How happy are the poor in spirit.

Deacon Paul Thompson gives us a Reflection

Bishop Declan Homily Mass with Hospitalite

Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes – Day Seven – Wednesday – Baths, Stations of the Cross

Lourdes is famous as a place of healing and many pilgrims like to bathe in the waters of the spring that Bernadette uncovered in 1858.  Today, our pilgrims were invited to respond to Mary’s request to wash in the water and to go to the “Piscines” (Baths) located in the Domaine close to the Grotto.  

The spring water that Bernadette discovered during the ninth apparition is now channelled to the Baths so that pilgrims can completely immerse themselves. Although there is nothing unusual about the water, Lourdes water has become popular because of the miracles associated with it.  People who have been cured have either bathed in it, washed in it or drunk it. Bernadette herself said “This water is being taken as medicine……..One must have faith, one must pray. This water would have no virtue without faith”.

The bathing ritual is short and reminds us of our Baptism and the call to follow Jesus. Prayers are recited to Mary – a source of comfort, hope and love – and there is time for silent reflection.  The sick and disabled are particularly welcome at the Baths and we hope that bathing or washing in the spring water will help them bear the burdens of their sufferings.  We all need healing of some kind and we pray that God’s healing hand will rest on all those who suffer so that they may be filled with grace and a deeper sense of God’s presence in their lives.

The Stations or ‘Way of the Cross’ is a reflection (in readings and prayers) of Jesus’ final hours before his crucifixion. Those able to climb the hill behind the Sanctuary followed a route of “High Stations”, which are life-sized statues spaced out along a high mountain path. (These can be seen on the video attached.)  The pathway is uneven and in places quite steep. Those who felt that the path would be too challenging, prayed the Stations of the Cross in St. Bernadette’s Church within the sanctuary.  The readings and prayers at each Station allowed us to meditate on Jesus’ suffering on his journey with the cross as well as to reflect on the crosses we carry in our own lives and the struggles we face, confident in faith that Jesus is always there to comfort and support us. There are also the “Low Stations” by the side of the River Gave which are all on one level and are a much shorter distance for those less mobile.

We finish the day with Mass for the “Hospitalite”, this is in thanksgiving for the volunteers who have helped all week in so many ways, by pushing the assisted pilgrims in their wheelchairs or caring for them in the hospital amongst many other tasks. It is also time to recognise some of the long serving volunteers.

Wednesday Pictures

Lourdes 2019 – Wednesday

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Day eight – Thursday

Liturgy with Anointing of the Sick: Gospel: Matthew 8: 14-17 He took our sickness away

Thanksgiving Mass: Luke: 6: 20-26 How happy are you who are poor. Alas for you who are rich

Mgr Liam gives us his final day Reflection in Lourdes

Mgr Tony Rogers Homily – Closing Mass

Bishop Paul Hendricks Homily – Anointing of the Sick

Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes – Day eight – Thursday. Anointing of the sick, Closing Mass

The sick and infirm are at the centre of the prayers of those in Lourdes and the Anointing of the Sick liturgy is an opportunity for those who are suffering to receive the Sacrament of the Sick and be filled with God’s healing grace.

During today’s service, prayers were said for all who are suffering; those who are visibly frail as well as those with unseen ailments. The Bishops and Priests moved among the laity, laying their hands on each sick pilgrim, praying over them and anointing them with oil.  Oil has always had a symbolic value in the Church, conveying healing and strength.

The ceremony was a moving occasion where we came to the heart of what it means to be in Lourdes. We can all share in the healing that Jesus brings, regardless of who we are, where we come from or what burdens we are carrying.

Our final Mass together was a chance to thank God and his mother for the grace of having been on the Pilgrimage and a time to commit ourselves to taking the spirit of the Pilgrimage home with us.  Although tired, we are full of joy at what we have experienced.

Lourdes is a place that helps us all, whether assisted pilgrims or able-bodied, to deepen our faith, meet people we wouldn’t usually encounter and care for those who need our help.  It is a place of great devotion and we took part in a packed programme.  We experienced a blessed and fruitful pilgrimage and we left Lourdes with gratitude to God for the many graces we have received.   Lourdes is quite simply a wonderful place, not only for what happened here in 1858, but also because of what happens today, it is a place where the love of God is on display through the care and help given by the volunteers and pilgrims alike. Many friendships are made, and as we come to leave Lourdes for this year, we give thanks to Our Lady for calling us to this very prayerful, holy place.

Following the closing Mass, we made our way back to our hotels to board our coaches for the journey home to arrive in Bristol early on the Friday afternoon. Those travelling by air stayed until the morning and left on a lunchtime flight back to Bristol.

Over the coming weeks, preparation will start for next year’s pilgrimage when we will be doing everything possible to arrange a safe and comfortable pilgrimage for everybody. Please pray that all restrictions will be lifted, and all people are safe and well, and once again Clifton Diocese will join pilgrims from around the world to go in procession to Lourdes as Our Lady requested.

Our Lady of Lourdes, help of the sick, Pray for us, Pray for the Church, Pray for the World.

St Bernadette, Pray for us.

Thursday Pictures

Lourdes Thursday – Anointing Of The Sick

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“A Tour of the Town – The Life Story of St. Bernadette”, Part One, narrated by John Hartley

Join John Hartley, who has been coming to Lourdes for several decades, as he tells the story of St Bernadette serialised in five parts this week.

“A Tour of the Town -The Life Story of St. Bernadette”, Part Two, narrated by John Hartley

The second of part of John Hartley’s “Life of Bernadette” recounts how and when the first apparition occurs and concludes with the formation of the Commission of Enquiry.

“A Tour of the Town – The Life Story of St. Bernadette”, Part Three, narrated by John Hartley

This third part of our journey through the life story of St. Bernadette includes the findings of the Commission of Enquiry and The Maison Paternelle, just before St. Bernadette says farewell to Lourdes.

“A Tour of the Town – The Life Story of St. Bernadette”, Part Four, narrated by John Hartley

The penultimate part, narrated by John Hartley starts with a description of St Bernadette’s farewell to Lourdes, never to return, the fourth part ends with an explanation of what St Bernadette meant when she said she was a “A broom in your hands.

“A Tour of the Town – The Life Story of St. Bernadette”, Part Five, narrated by  John Hartley

The final part gives us an insight into St. Bernadette’s latter years and a final thought from John Hartley, “For myself, I see Bernadette as a straight speaking, resilient, courageous, girl. She was head strong and single minded and could when exasperated, answer back. There was no guile or cunning in her.”

Stations of the Cross with Fr Eugene