Latin Mass Society 2008 Pilgrimage to Lourdes

In October the Latin Mass Society, led by Fr Andrew Southwell, made a pilgrimage to Lourdes to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubirous.

In the first instance, our group had a long journey to Lourdes, with a 90 minute flight, followed by a 2 hour coach transfer from Toulouse. Any thoughts of tiredness soon vanished as we sung "Ave Maria" upon entering the town.

The daily schedule consisted of Missa Cantata, the praying of the Rosary and sung Compline.

We had two additional outings as part of the pilgrimage.

First, we went to Betharam, a shrine which is older than Lourdes itself. There, we made the Stations of the Cross, with each station being in the magnificent form of a small chapel.

Secondly, a trip to Bartres, a small town where St. Bernadette was sent as a baby to be wet nursed and subsequently she worked there, tending sheep. Here, Mass was offered in the beautiful parish Church.

As with all pilgrimages of tradition, you can trust the shrine authorities to throw a few spanners in the works. Mrs Maria Chang, our gracious organiser, found it an extremely difficult task to obtain chapels in which to celebrate Mass. When her requests were met, the locations provided were unimpressive. "Barely enough room to swing a cat" is a phrase that springs to mind! Even our chapel for Compline on the first full day was being used by another group with no regard for timing.

However, trust in God and he will provide! By his grace, Mrs Chang arranged for Mass to be held in the crypt of the Parish Church, (where we had Mass on the first day), from the third day to the end of our pilgrimage. Deo gratias!

Since it was impossible to take part in the torchlight procession as a group, Fr Southwell instigated the idea of holding Compline, opposite the grotto, by torchlight instead. This was a wonderful and beautiful setting for the evening office which attracted people to join the group, two of whom were traditional Catholics from Paris.

On the penultimate day, we walked the Jubilee Way. This allowed us to gain a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, by visiting and praying at 4 specific places in the life of St. Bernadette:

  • The parish church where she was baptised;
  • The “Cachot”, the abandoned prison, where the Soubirous family lived;
  • St Michael’s Gate, the Arches and the Grotto; and
  • The Hospital Oratory where Bernadette made her first Holy Communion.

Our allocated guide impressed us with her historical knowledge of Lourdes. Even more moving was her emphasis on the spiritual significance of undertaking the Jubilee Way.

The Holy Hour we had in the Basilica Crypt, proved spiritually nourishing for all. Many pilgrims joined us for the Rosary, a wonderful sermon from Fr. Southwell and Benediction. This proved that the sheep have a desire to be led by the Shepherds!

Other highlights included

  • Stations of the Cross opposite the Basilica
  • Visit to “Petite Lourdes
  • Visit to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Crypt and Rosary Basilica.
  • …..and fresh pancakes :-)

All pilgrims gave their sincerest thanks to Fr. Southwell for spiritually leading us, and to Mrs Chang for physically getting us there!

We left with joy in our hearts and many graces for our souls.


Holy Mass being celebrated in the Crypt of Lourdes Parish Church

The Beautiful Church in Betharam

One of Betharam's wonderful Stations of the Cross

"Onward Christian soldiers!" we continue to the next station.

"Que Soy Era Immaculada Concepciou!"

Sung Compline, after discovering another group using our Chapel! (Believe it or not, that is actually an Altar you can see behind us!)

Holy Hour: The Shepherd feeds the sheep

Standing at the foot of the Cross

A wonderful pilgrimage comes to an end with the customary photo!

No comments: