The joy of being back in Lourdes


Lourdes never loses its appeal for me. Arriving in the bus yesterday after the flight to Toulouse and the two hour coach journey, my heart lifted as we entered the town, passed the parish Church and drove down the precipitous Rue de la Grotte.

After a late supper, I was in time for the last two mysteries of the Rosary at the end of the torchlight procession. Archbishop Longley of Birmingham gave the blessing and I made sure to buy a new Rosary on the way down to the grotto so that it could be blessed by a Bishop. (It is significant to have devotional objects blessed by a Bishop because you can gain a plenary indulgence by using them on the feast of St Peter and St Paul.)

I normally skip the first morning’s tour “In the footsteps of St Bernadette” since I know it quite well, but as we have just a small group this year I went along. At the Boly Mill, one detail jumped out at me: more on that later.

Near the Cachot (the former prison cell where St Bernadette’s family had to make their home after the family business failed) I found an antique shop I had not seen before. There were some good vestments and other sacred objects of interest and I will be making another visit during the week.

We book our Masses by specifying the kind of chapel we want rather than asking for a particular time, so that we can have one of the small chapels by the Immaculate Conception Basilica. In those, it is easy enough to move a few things round to set up for the usus antiquior, and you do not feel as though you are worshipping God in a converted garage. It is beautiful to be able to celebrate a quiet low Mass in the building which was set up in response to Our Lady’s request to St Bernadette “build me a chapel in this place.”

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