What a wonderful grace-filled day inspired by Our Lady and St, Bernadette. Many hundreds of people visited Clifton Cathedral on Saturday 10th September to experience and to venerate the Relics of this wonderful saint, St. Bernadette Soubirous. – “The Saint of Lourdes”.

With a full day planned, the late arrival of the Relics due to traffic issues is not what pilgrims wanted to hear. However, it turned out to be a blessing as pilgrims met old friends and renewed acquaintances, children played on the piazza outside the St. Paul door, and all kept a cheerful anticipation of the arrival. Pilgrims were also given extra time to read about St Bernadette and the apparitions at Lourdes on the specially prepared banners in the cathedral.

All were there to pray and so they did, the programme was started regardless, with the welcome of St. Bernadette being moved to suit her arrival time.

All pilgrims were offered the opportunity to “wash in the waters” as our Lady had asked. With water supplied from the spring in Lourdes, small amounts were poured into pilgrim’s hands, so they could “wash their face”, with priests and deacons on hand to give the pilgrims a blessing.

Our rosary of the Joyful Mysteries, led by the Parish of the Immaculate Conception, Stroud, helped by the sisters from the Bernadine Monastery at Brownshill, was amazing as we heard all those pilgrim’s rosary prayers rise to our heavenly Father through Mary. It was really quite fitting that as up to 1000 pilgrims prayed, and with the Hail Marys ringing out within the Cathedral, the relics of St. Bernadette, accompanied by a statue of Our Lady also sent from Lourdes, were being prepared ready for the procession up to the sanctuary for a wonderfully warm welcome from everyone.

After a short period of eager veneration, Mass was celebrated during which there was a very moving and prayerful anointing of the sick, as priests moved among the pilgrims, and many received this healing sacrament.

Immediately after Mass had finished, a second rosary of the day, the Glorious Mysteries, led by St. Bernadette’s Parish, Bristol, and helped by the Little Sisters of the Poor, started, this time accompanied by a torchlit procession of many hundreds of pilgrims following the statue of Our Lady, as it weaved its way through and around the cathedral accompanied by wonderful music and candles lifted high whilst the Ave Maria was sung, quite a sight to behold.

More time to venerate the relics was followed by our final rosary of the day, the Sorrowful Mysteries, led very reverently by the Goan Youth Chaplaincy from Swindon. The evening ended with sung Night Prayer.

Sunday Morning saw more opportunity for veneration, morning prayer, followed by Mass, with 600 pilgrims. Immediately after Mass we said a fond farewell to the relics of St. Bernadette as she was processed out to her waiting transport to wend her way on to the next destination at Cardiff Cathedral.

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