We were in the Underground Basilica, among a congregation of about 20,000, for our International Mass this morning. 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 are in Lourdes this year because 2019 marks 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. A prayerful and reflective end to our day.