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.
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 Basilicas followed a route of “High Stations”, which are life-sized statues spaced out along a high mountain path. 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 within the Domain. 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.
Today’s Mass was held in St. Bernadette’s Church and was presided by Bishop Declan who reminded us that during this week in Lourdes, Christ’s light has been shared with each other through our friendliness and hospitality and we must continue sharing this light at home, in our Parishes and in our Diocese.
During the Mass, new members of the Catholic Association Hospitalite were presented with the Insigna which is a sign of commitment to return regularly to Lourdes to assist the Assisted pilgrims. We thank God for all the Catholic Association helpers who have given of their time so selflessly this week to help those in need and we ask Him to bless their work.