As well as time for peace, prayer, penance and privation, pilgrimage has always had an element of fun and relaxation to it. Today 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 who had lost her own child; the second was when she was sent there to work at the age of thirteen, a year before her encounters with the blessed Virgin Mary.
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. It 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. Mass was celebrated for the feast of St Monica – the mother of St Augustine. St Monica is admired for her patience, perseverance, prayerful disposition and deep faith, and is a great devotee of the blessed mother. We pray that St Monica will inspire us to a deeper devotion to Mary and a love of prayer.
Our Mass was followed by a Diocesan meal together in a local restaurant, where we were able to continue our celebrations and enjoy each other’s company.