Lourdes : these moments that you will never forget
You are just visiting Lourdes or you are a regular pilgrim. Here are a few ideas for activities to boost your morale.
Moment 1 : The Grotto
Testimony of a volunteer "I had never taken the time to stop at Lourdes. At the Grotto I suddenly felt very moved. I cried throughout the whole week of my stay: about my life up to then that had been somewhat wasted, about the time lost by not coming here earlier. I also cried with happiness, because I rediscovered my faith! Since that event, I come to Lourdes twice every year to make myself useful as a volunteer. Lourdes has become my little piece of heaven".
Accessible day and night, 24h / 24, the Grotto is the supreme goal. Its rock is black and the sun never penetrates its interior directly. It is the light of the Virgin Mary, during the apparitions in particular, that brought light to it. When walking through the Grotto, or stopping in front of it, each person relates to it in whatever way he or she can. It is a place of prayer, a place of trust and peace, a place of respect and unity in the silence; the Grotto is also a place where everyone can quietly meditate. In the words of the Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, Mgr Nicolas Brouwet, Guardian of the Grotto, it must remain a place of grace "where everyone can be touched by the unconditional love of Jesus Christ."
Moment 2 : The Reconciliation chapel
Testimony of a Chaplain “One day, a youngster came to the Chapel of Reconciliation. He had never been to confession. He was afraid! He came anyway, wondering what had brought him here. I greeted him in the name of God. At the end of his meeting with the Lord, he sobbed with emotion, stammering: "Why have I not come sooner?" His life had suddenly changed. On my way back from the chapel, I also cry sometimes, saying: Thank you, Lord ...”
Lourdes is conducive to taking stock of one’s life. It is a place of prayer, humility and healing, where we can identify the wrong that we did, see ourselves as sinners, and receive God's forgiveness. To reach the Grotto and perhaps without paying attention, one inevitably walks past the Chapel of Reconciliation, open 7 / 7. In four of the eighteen Apparitions, the Virgin Mary said to Bernadette: "Penance, Penance, Penance!”. To confess, that is, to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, is a practical and spiritual way to respond personally to the call of Our Lady.
Moment 3 : The baths
Testimony of a pilgrim “We must not hesitate to slip into the rejuvenating bath of grace! We must surrender to the mystery of love. This is the message that I perceived when voluntarily undergoing this experience of the Baths”.
On 25 February 1858, The Virgin Mary said to Bernadette: “Go and drink at the spring and wash yourself there”. Every year, several hundreds of thousands of people accomplish the gesture of being bathed in the water from the spring, which fills the Baths of the Sanctuary. They often experience the Baths as a step towards confession. The access to the Baths is free. You need not bring any special bathing clothes: what is necessary to preserve intimacy is provided.
Moment 4 : THE processions
Testimony of Pope Benedict XVI, in Lourdes “As night falls, Jesus says to us: “keep your lamps burning” (Lk 12:35); the lamp of faith, the lamp of prayer, the lamp of hope and love! This act of walking through the night, carrying the light, speaks powerfully to the depths of our souls, touches our heart and says much more than any other word uttered or heard. This gesture itself summarizes our condition as Christians on a journey: we need light, and at the same time are called to be light”.
To this day two daily processions have contributed to the fame of Lourdes; the Eucharistic Procession (from 5.00pm to 6.00pm) and the Marian Torchlight Procession (from 9.00pm to 10.00pm). The Torchlight Procession, at nightfall, is the most popular. Pilgrims gather around their banners. Tourists can freely mingle with the crowds. Each holds a candle in his hand surrounded by a cardboard collar on which he can read the words of the traditional hymn: the Ave Maria of Lourdes. During the procession, the Rosary is said. In the peace of the evening, each one prays for the intentions dearest to him. Prayer brings together this crowd of all nations, peoples and languages, in union with the Virgin Mary.
Moment 5 : THE ROSARY
Testimony of a Priest “When we no longer know how to pray, we still know how to take a rosary in our hand. And even when we can no longer say a single word, we can still keep this rosary in our hand. The prayer of the poor, the prayer of the smallest, is still a model of prayer. "
The Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in the Grotto, in 1858, a rosary in her hand. Bernadette herself had one, and she held it in her hand at the time of the Apparitions. The Rosary was the only prayer she knew. The meditation of three Rosaries is organised daily by the Sanctuary. Everyone, of course, can participate. Two are recited from the Grotto: at 3.30pm, in French, broadcast live on TV Lourdes, KTO and Christian radio stations; at 6.00pm, in Italian, on TV Lourdes and TV 2000. The meditation of the third rosary takes place in the evening from 9.00pm, during the Marian Torchlight Procession. A rosary, especially made in the Holy Land for the Sanctuary of Lourdes, is on sale at the Grotto Bookshop.
Moment 6 : The international mass
Testimony of a mother “There is much I could tell you about all the small graces we have experienced here as a family. What is certain is that, in Lourdes, we have met other enthusiastic families. We all belong to one big family: the family of the Church!”
You have to experience the Basilica of Saint Pius X when it is empty and during a celebration such as the International Mass at 9:30 am every Wednesday and Sunday (broadcast live, via TV Lourdes, on www.lourdes-france.org). Because of its shape and its enormous dimensions, the Basilica enables everyone to realise they are part of a community of faith, hope, and charity: in a word, to be a member of one and the same Family.