150th anniversary of the arrival of the first Chaplains.
On 17 May 1866 Fathers Sempé and Duboé, both members of the Congregation of the Missionary Fathers of the Immaculate Conception (M.I.C.), arrive in Lourdes. They are given the task by Bishop Laurence of "preparing the inauguration of the chapel of the crypt, built on the rock of the Apparition". Five days later, on 21 May 1866, worship is officially inaugurated at the Grotto by Mgr Laurence, and there Father Duboé delivers the first homily: "Here, prayer is an outpouring of the soul, prayer is a banquet, prayer is repose (...) How many have said time and time again ‘I never prayed as I did in Lourdes ...’". On Monday 16 May a Mass, attended by all the Chaplains, was celebrated at the Grotto in honour of all the Chaplains who have succeeded each other over 150 years to serve the pilgrims.

The Chaplains today
For you, 27 Chaplains, Priests and Brothers, and one deacon, serve the pilgrims throughout the year. In 2016, 189 Auxiliary Chaplains from the 5 continents will come to help them during the Jubilee of Mercy, especially for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Besides the Priests and Brothers, 12 communities of Religious Sisters and consecrated lay people work in the Sanctuary, particularly in the accommodation Centres for the sick, the Grotto and the various reception Centres. The budget for pastoral services amounts to EUR 750 000.

Jubilee for Priests
On 4 and 5 July 2016 as part of the Jubilee of Mercy, the Sanctuary of Lourdes will organise the Jubilee for priests on the theme: "The priest, a witness of mercy." It will be chaired by Cardinal Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.