Monday, 28 July 2008

Lourdes in the Jubilee Year

Today, the first of three posts about the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes. Earlier in the year the Cathedral marked the 150th anniversary of the apparitions with a novena, pilgrimage to Cleator and Mass and Vespers on the feast day. Last weeek Fr Andrew and a number of parishioners joined the Diocesan Pilgrimage and got a first-hand experience of Lourdes in this jubilee year.

There is no doubt that Lourdes is extra-busy this year. Many millions of pilgrims are expected to visit the shrine, and to pray at the Grotto (above) where Our Lady appeared to St Bernadette eighteen times in the period February-July 1858.

In a jubilee year it is common for churches to designate a special entrance or open a different door during the year. Pilgrims visiting a church to mark the jubilee would enter by this 'holy door'. In Lourdes the archways which lead from the Rosary Square to the Grotto have been marked out for this purpose. They are decorted with images and each had an icon at ground level, which pilgrims are asked to venerate.

Even at night time there are large crowds at the Grotto. Many are drawn by the stillness and beauty of this place; its holiness seems even more evident after sunset.

Pilgrims are also encouraged to take part in a 'Jubilee Walk' around the town, visiting many of the sites associated with St Bernadette's life. A plenary indulgence is offered to pilgrims who take part in this walk. Tomorrow's post will focus on our own Diocesan Pilgrimage.