Bishop David Oakley led the annual diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes at the end of August. With bright sunshine many pilgrims from across our diocese made the pilgrimage to Lourdes nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains in the south of France.
Each year millions of pilgrims travel to Lourdes to follow in the footsteps in of St Bernadette. St Bernadette was born in 1844. Bernadette Soubirous was one of eight children born into a very poor family.
Between 11 February and 16 July 1858, Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary eighteen times in a series of Apparitions that took place in cave on the outskirts of Lourdes, a place now known as the Grotto of Massabielle. In the course of these miraculous encounters, Bernadette, then aged just 14, became the friend and confidante of Our Lady, the mother of Jesus.
Each day in Lourdes there are two processions; the torchlight procession and the Eucharistic procession. Dating back to 1874, the Eucharistic procession is a direct response to a request from Mary through Bernadette to “Go and tell the Priests that a chapel should be built here and that people should come here in procession“.
Leading the procession, Bishop David encouraged those who were present to open “their hearts and their whole lives to the healing presence of Jesus in the Eucharist”.The Procession starts in the Prairie of the Sanctuary and finishes in the Basilica of Saint Pius X with a time of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament followed by the blessing of pilgrims, with the sick occupying the front rows.