News from Lourdes

The Lourdes Magazine arrived the other day. As ever, there are a number of interesting pieces of information as well as the good articles and most useful up-to-date map of Lourdes with details of all the hotels. (Lourdes is the second largest town in France if measured by hotel capacity.)

The editorial notes the Holy Father's letter to the Chinese Catholics and announces that the Message of Lourdes has been translated into Chinese by NDL Editions.

The magazine has a short article referring to the visit of the Holy Father next year. This concludes:
"As we go to press the date of the visit has not yet been announced. It will not doubt coincide with an important Marian Feast..."
The article is illustrated with a picture of Pope Benedict at the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican gardens, noting that the Pope makes a pilgrimage there every year on 31 May for the Feast of the Visitation. This rather hints that the hoteliers might have been right last year in speculating that the date would be 31 May 2008. But we shall have to see.

Fr Martin Moran OMI makes an appeal for English-speaking priests to volunteer some time as confessors at Lourdes during the anniversary year. He can be contacted at martin.moran@lourdes-france.com

There is a photo competition, ending 31 October for the most beautiful photographs of Lourdes, to be published in a souvenir album. I might enter that.

I have mentioned before that I am very impressed by the Shrine Authorities at Lourdes and Bishop Jacques Perrier. They have done a lot to increase reverence and genuine spiritual participation at the shrine. I do not like some aspects of Lourdes such as the horrible architecture of the hemicycle but it is a shrine where you can pray at all times of day, go to confession and attend Mass celebrated reverently.

It would be fair to say that some of the English pilgrimages need to "catch up" a little here with the newer spirit of the shrine. Pope Benedict's visit will, I am sure, be highly significant for the development of the spiritual activities there.

Here is a link to the official site for Lourdes.

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