Thursday, 23 August 2012


As many of you will be aware in Lourdes there are two processions each day in Lourdes. The Blessed Sacrament Procession in the afternoon and the Torchligh Procession in the Evening. In this post we see some of our many young people at the Procession and helping to carry the statue of Our Lady.
The Processions are a wonderful way of bringing all the people who are in Lourdes at that time together to journey together as people professing one faith.  The Marian Procession in the evening begins with everyone singing the Creed and then meditating on the mysteries of the rosary as they walk in procession behind the statue of Our Lady and raising their candles to Her honour at the Ave, ave, ave Maria.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


 Following Mass (and Lunch) those who wished were led on a walking tour of Lourdes by three seasoned Lourdes pilgrims: Canon Tony McBride, Father Paul Daly and Father Francis Wadsworth.

The first port of call was the Parish Church, dedicated to the Sacred Heart.  This is the church that now houses the font in which Bernadette was baptised.  Outside the church is a statue ot Fr. Peyremale the PP of Lourdes at the time oif the Apparitions.

From the Parish Church we made our way to the Cachot.  At the time of Bernadette it was used at the local prison.  It was from here that Bernadette made here way to the grotto of Massabielle to collect firewood and whatever else she could find to help the family when she received the first apparition of 'the Beautiful Lady.'


Once all the pilgrims had assembled in Lourdes having travelled there in coaches, cars, planes and trains we gathered with our Bishop and priests for the Opening Mass of pilgrimage celebrated in the Chapel of St Bernadette opposite the Grotto.

The theme of this year's pilgriamge was 'With Bernadette, praying the Rosary' and in his introduction and catechesis before Mass, the new pilgrimage director, Fr Michael Jones, reminded pilgrims of the words of Pope Paul VI: “without contemplation the rosary is a body without a soul”. He encouraged pilgrims to use their time in Lourdes during the week to reflect upon the life of Christ through the eyes of her who knew him best – Our Blessed Mother, Mary.


 Monday was a fairly quiet day as we waitied for the rest of the pilgrims from the various departure points in the diocese to arrive in Lourdes. 

This gave to chance for the more seasoned pilgrims to point out places of interest associated with St Bernadette and Lourdes to our first timers.

In the afternoon we we privileged to join Bishop Mark Davies who was celebrating the closing Mass of his pilgrimage in the church of St Bernadette opposite the Grotto.  He was more than happy to wlecome pilgrims from his old diocese.

By way of an aside I was kept up to date with one of my fellow pilgrim's itinerary.  Regukar updates via facebook and text messages let me know of the grastronomical journey of the PP of Heywood as he made his journey to Lourdes.


Having been on the road most of the day it was a welcome sight to see signs for Lourdes appearing on the road signs.  As evening began to fall we could both feel the excitment rise as we got nearer and nearer to the shrine of Our Lady. 

Every year going to Lourdes is special.  This trip was marking the beginning of my 26th visit to Lourdes, but once again that feeling of 'going home' began to rise - an the thoughts of meeting up with friends who had also arrived early for our diocesan pilgrimage.

Having checked into our hotel we headed out to the usual haunt of the Salford Pilgrims - the Miam Miam.  (Its actual name now is the New Orleans - but to thousands of Salford Pilgrms it will always be the Miam Miam).

Travelling takes its toll - and so two tired, but bone fide travellers sat down among friends to enjoy a steak bleu and a bottle of Madaran.  The pilgrimage had begun!!!

Mass at Notre Dame

On the Sunday morning we headed over to Notre Dame.  Firstly we joined the assembled throng of tourists, curious visitors and the faithful for Laudes (Morning Prayer) after which I went off to the sacristy to vest for Mass.

I was asked by the sacristan if I would be able to say part of the Eucharistic Prayer in French.  i said that I could, only to be told by the Bishop that he would say the entire prayer himself.  It was only after Mass that he told us that by long standing tradition that Mass is braodcast on french radio.  I suppose he didn't want some foreigner murdering his way through Mass on public radio.

Not being in your own parish on a Sunday morning means that you don't have to worry about Baptisms, Ukrainian Masses or who going to put things out for the 4:00pm Mass.  This meant we were free to  wonder around and leisurely take a cup of  coffee and a pain au chocolat before heading back to the car and onwards with our journey towards Our Lady's Shrine. 

Our next port of call was to be Bordeaux and the Insitute du Bon Pasteur.  Again we were trusting Providence by not booking in advance.  However this time we did phone to leavea message with the superior to say that we were on our way and that if it was possible to stay then we would be happy to, but if not he was not to worry.

Well it may have been possible to stay, but we will never know.  When we arrived at Bordeaux we discovered lots of road works and yellow signs saying 'deviation' Diversion.  After almost an hour of driving round in the heat and mounting traffic and having seens large parts of Bordeaux we never intended we decided to cut our losses and head straight for Lourdes.


Holy Name, Manchester

On Saturday 28th July together with my travelling companion, Br David from Holy Name Church, Manchester set out towards Folkestone for the first leg of our pilgrimage to Lourdes with the diocese.

Thankfully we had a good journey down and made good time.  This allowed us to take an earlier crossing than planned. We arrived in Calais around 4:30pm and then began the drive to Paris in search of accommodation. 

We arrived in central Paris and then began the task of finding a bed for the night.  (With hindsight it would have been better to book before setting off, but it takes some of the fun and adventure out of it if everything is planned.  We tried several hotels all with the same response 'je suis vraiment desolee mais nous sommes complet.'  - We are very sorry but we are full.  By now time was marching on and I was beginning to think we might have to follow the exampe of our friend, Fr. Paul Daly who had to spend an evening in the car due to all the rooms being full in Douai.

Paris by Night
We decided to head out of central Paris in the hope of finding a place lay our heads.  In driving out of central Paris I took a wrong turning and we ended up in a place that Br David describes as a scene from a war zone.  In spite of appearances we managed to find a low cost accommodation for the night.  After putting our bags in the rooms we headed out for a bite to eat. 
Just down the road we found this lovely restaurant that was thanking still serving food at what was now 10:30pm.  We sat down to a lovely steak bleu and a bottle of local parisian wine.