For the great marian celebrations that take place out of the period of the pilgrimages, such as the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (7th and 8th December), there is a torchlight procession in the Sanctuary. It's the most popular celebration in Lourdes. Following the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, the pilgrims meditate the prayer of the Rosary, with a torchlight in their hand. It starts at 9 pm near the Grotto.
The Torchlight Marian Procession takes place each evening at 9.00 pm as it has done since 1872.
The welcoming of pilgrims and announcements begin at 8.45 pm.
The Evening Procession begins from the Prairy and ends in the square in front of the Rosary Basilica. Between torches, pilgrims carry a statue of Our Lady (a copy of the Cabuchet statue of the Blessed Virgin).
During the Procession, the pilgrims walk in groups behind their pilgrimage banner. Everyone is invited to carry a lighted candle in their hand as a reminder of Baptism.
At the end of the Procession, the Priests and Bishops present give the Blessing.
The Rosary is not a prayer wheel and it does not encourage the repetition with the lips of ready-made formulae. It is with the aid of these words that we enter into the life of Christ, remembering his birth, his childhood (Joyful Mysteries), his adult life, his death (Sorrowful Mysteries) and his resurrection (Glorious Mysteries). It is a means of coming closer to him.
The Mass at 11.00 pm in the Grotto
After the Procession, the pilgrims are invited to attend the last Mass of the day at the Grotto of the Apparition. The celebrant chooses his theme from the Masses in Honour of Our Lady or from the Masses for Various Needs and Occasions. This Mass is to give thanks for all the graces received at the Sanctuary during the day. This Mass at the Grotto is celebrated every day, including Sunday, from the beginning of the Pilgrimage Season. The Mass will be celebrated in French or Italian.
The procession lasts about one hour and a half. It is possible for pilgrims to recite the Rosary in different languages. They must present themselves in front of the Rosary Basilica 30 minutes before the Procession begins. To take part in the Choir it is necessary to present oneself in front of the Rosary Basilica no later than 8.30pm. It is open to pilgrims of all languages. Candles are bought in the town before entering the Sanctuary.