Lourdes and the Classical Roman Rite

Several priests have asked me for information about saying the TLM while visiting Lourdes. To be honest, one of the problems is the extraordinary lack of transparency about policy but I will do my best to wade through the fog.

If you are a priest on your own or with a group of up to about 6 people, it is very easy. Just go along the corridor towards the Crypt Chapel, and just before the chapel itself, go into the sacristy on the right. Ask to say Mass - there are five altars that are available all day long. Ask for the one of the two at the end (facing liturgical East). When the sacristan asks if you want the English book, say that you are saying Mass in Latin and you have your own book. Nobody will bat an eyelid and all is well.

If you take a parish group to Lourdes, you need to contact the Service Planification from April onward to book chapels for any Masses. There are various chapels that you can be allocated. The best for a group of up to 40 are the St Gabriel and St Michel chapels next to the Immaculate Conception Basilica. If you simply ask for an English Mass for your group and have your own priest, it is no problem - emails are answered promptly and if you are flexible with your times, you can secure a booking for these chapels most days. (You would be wise to reject a booking for the St Patrick "chapel" which is more like a garage.)

The strange thing was when, in addition to our English Masses, we also requested bookings for Masses in the "extraordinary form" in those same chapels, asking in the same way. No reply. English Mass, fine, quick reply. TLM - silence; resubmit - nada. We gave up: the "workaround" is to ask for an English Mass and then just say the TLM - nobody is likely to notice and if they do, there is not much they can do about it since the sermon will be in English and you are entitled to use the older form of the rite - the Pope says so.

Nevertheless, this is not satisfactory. Also, of course, you have to bring your own altar cards, candles, crucifix, bell, pall (and maniple, chalice veil, burse etc. if you want to do things properly.) All of these items are surely hidden around Lourdes somewhere and it would be nice to be able to use them. I did try a visit to the Director General but intruded on an office meeting, was directed to the head of the English-speaking chaplains, couldn't find him and anyway it was time to say some office before the procession.

As for official Masses, here is a link to the schedule. Look very carefully under Sundays and Holydays (not "Masses in other languages") and you will see that there is a 9.30am Mass on Sunday in the Immaculate Conception Basilica which has "(LATIN)" after it. If I am not mistaken, this is a Mass in the forme extraordinaire and not a Novus Ordo Latin Mass. (UPDATE: I am not mistaken. TheFrench side of the official site has "selon le Missel de 1962")

My impression was that Lourdes is trying to follow the letter of Summorum Pontificum but is not very enthusiastic about it. I was very strongly discouraged from saying anything on my blog about the TLM at all. (Sorry!) So no surprise there, then. Except ...

... if you are the Society of St Pius X (see picture above - more about that later). I suppose that Lourdes has long ago given up trying to obstruct the SSPX and just let them get on with things. I wonder if it is really their intention that devotees of the old Mass will find things much easier if they just tag along with the SSPX. Because that is certainly the case for the ordinary pilgrim.

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