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Dominican Pilgrimage to Lourdes (Part 1)

Sunday, August 17, 2008
Dusk in Lourdes

This year is the 150th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady to St Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes. The annual Pilgrimage to Lourdes of the English Province took place from 1 - 8 August which meant that we had the privilege of celebrating St Dominic's day in Lourdes in this Jubilee Year.

As part of the Jubilee celebrations, Pope Benedict XVI granted a plenary indulgence to all pilgrims who visited four sites associated with St Bernadette in Lourdes and said a special Jubilee prayer. Inspired by this pattern, Godzdogz will post this prayer in four parts with various photographs from our pilgrimage based on the four elements of Dominican life: Prayer, Preaching, Study and Community.

In every Dominican pilgrimage, liturgical prayer is an important element. In Lourdes the highlights include the festive International Mass in the cavernous underground basilica and the more intimate Mass at the Grotto where Our Lady appeared to St Bernadette:

fr John Farrell OP presided at the Grotto Mass which was concelebrated by priests of the English Province, Bishop Joseph Vianney Fernando of Kandy (Sri Lanka) and clergy from Ireland and Sri Lanka.

fr Dermot Morrin preached during the Grotto Mass and likened the grotto to God's ear where God has, as it were, bent low to listen to our prayers.

One of our young pilgrims who was on his sixth pilgrimage to Lourdes received his first Holy Communion during the Grotto Mass.

Our new Pilgrimage Director, fr John O'Connor OP with pilgrims before the start of the International Mass.

The English Prior Provincial at the altar in the underground basilica of Lourdes.

One of our pilgrims was chosen to read an intercessory prayer during the International Mass, seen here on the big screen projected throughout the vast basilica space.

Daily Masses often took place in St Joseph's chapel.

The deacon proclaims the Gospel during Mass, surrounded by three altar servers from our London parish.

One of the most moving occasions is the Mass during which the sacrament of anointing is administered to the sick. Here, fr Dermot Morrin lays his hands on the sick; in the foreground is his own mother.

fr John Farrell anoints one of our sick pilgrims with the oil of the sick. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that "By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them."

Vespers is also celebrated with Mass each day and Lauds is sung together every morning. Here, fr Bruno Clifton OP and fr Robert Gay OP lead Vespers in Lourdes.

On Sunday we made an excursion to Gavarnie and sang Vespers in the beautiful church of Luz.

Carrying the Virgin Mother

On our last night in Lourdes we were given the privilege of leading the Marian Procession. Carrying the heavy portable shrine of Our Lady in the rain made this an act of prayer and penance as well as a form of holy preaching, of which more in the next post.

"God our Father
among all creatures You have formed Mary,
the perfect creature, the “Immaculate Conception”.
Here in Lourdes she proclaimed this name and Bernadette repeated it.
The Immaculate Conception; this is a cry of hope:
evil, sin, and death are no longer victors.
Mary, precursory sign, dawn of salvation!
Mary, the innocence and refuge of sinners
We pray to you.
Hail Mary..."

Lawrence Lew OP


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