This amazing day began with an international mass in an underground church dedicated to St. Pius X. Pilgrims from throughout the world gathered with priests, bishops and cardinals to offer our praise to God. It was interesting to experience how they included so many languages, but Latin carried the day. I’ve concelebrated my first Latin Mass!
There is a great effort to include the sick here. They are given preferred access to the facilities here. Because of healing properties attributed to the waters Lourdes focuses on this ministry. Nurses, doctors and other volunteers from throughout the world come to Lourdes for this purpose. Bathes are available twice a day to give persons the opportunity to immerse themselves in the waters. There is a hospital on site, as well as retreat houses.
We visited the homes of Bernadette Sobrinous, the saint of Lourdes. Her family had some success running a barley mill, which was also their home. By the time the Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette they had been reduced to subsistence living, forced by circumstances to live in one room in an abandoned jail building. Again, God chooses the lowly to work his will.
There was a Eucharistic procession, and candlelight rosary procession at night. Each were beautiful.
I had spent time today and last night to pray for the intentions the parish entrusted to me before I left, as I had carried them throughout our time here. Before leaving tonight, I prayed at the grotto and left the pages of intentions among the many offerings from the pilgrims. I hope God will bless all those who are dear to you. It has been my privilege to carry these with me during this time.
It seems unfortunate that this wonderful site is ringed by encroaching commercialism. Souvenir stores, hotels and restaurants abound. Fatima had these things but somehow they cheapen the approaches to Lourdes as they don’t in Fatima. Certainly the visitors are interested in bringing mementos home for their loved ones and themselves, us among them.