www.olqmhereford.org.uk

Our Lady Queen of Martyrs

Roman Catholic Church Hereford

 

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Further Pictures from the Pilgrimage are available to view here.

 

 

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Photo is of the 24 pilgrims in the Domaine area - shortly after mass in the Grotto.

Saturday 24th August 2013.

 

The intrepid pilgrims gather with Fr Cenydd at Our Lady’s for the opening mass of our pilgrimage to Lourdes. We then set off for the airport at 07.30, arriving in Lourdes in time for a drink before dinner. Very civilised.

 

Sunday morning sees us gathered in the underground basilica for the international mass after which we have a quick peep at the domaine and then an afternoon of rest and relaxation, with some of our number travelling to Bareges to see the awful aftermath of the June floods, whilst a group led by intrepid explorer Rich braved the funicular railway and spent the afternoon overlooking the surrounding countryside from the Pic Du Jer.

 

On Monday we join the rest of the English speaking pilgrims for mass at the grotto, always a wonderful experience, after which we had our group photo taken, amid much hilarity. We then retired for lunch followed by a tour of the old town, to visit those places associated with the life of St Bernadette. After a splendid dinner, we responded to Our Lady’s request to come in procession by taking part in the torchlight procession, sadly we were caught in a classic Lourdes storm, and ended up a bit wet. Never mind.

 

On Tuesday we had the opportunity for some private prayers and devotions, before heading out to Hosanna House for mass, followed by a visit to the village of Bartres, where St Bernadette was fostered as an infant, and where she returned in the autumn of 1857 to escape the Cachot, the old prison where the family were living at the time of the apparitions. We then headed out to the Lac de Lourdes, for a very pleasant hour or two beside the water, although it has to be said that the ducks didn’t seem too impressed with Fr C’s preaching. St Francis can relax!

 

On Wednesday some of the pilgrims joined Fr Cenydd for the high stations, whilst others headed for the baths, confessions and adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist, followed by a well deserved coffee in one of the many cafes.  Then in the afternoon we headed up the mountains to Gavarnie, where we celebrated Mass in the twelfth century parish church of St John the Baptist, one of the ancient churches on the mediaeval pilgrimage route to Compostella, getting caught in the rain yet again as we left the church. Those with any energy remaining gathered at the grotto again that evening for another torchlight procession.

 

Thursday morning saw us praying the Mass together at the Poor Clare’s convent, followed by a visit to the twice weekly market in the town square, where local cheeses were sampled and purchased, along with some maigret de canard, vacuum packed to survive the journey back to Tim’s fridge! On Thursday afternoon saw us visiting the grotto, followed by low Stations of the Cross, then the Blessed Sacrament Procession and blessing of the sick in the underground basilica.

 

Friday saw us waving farewell to Bex and Rich, who were returning to the UK a day ahead of the rest of the group in order to attend a friend’s wedding, whilst the remainder spent time hunting down the famous tacky souvenirs on Friday morning. Friday afternoon saw us back in the domain for mass with anointing of the sick in St Joseph’s chapel, where we were joined by various English speaking pilgrims.  This was, in my mind anyway, a miracle in itself, as St Joseph’s, a beautiful chapel, is normally reserved for groups of more than 100 pilgrims, so our 2 dozen were definitely there at Our Lady’s request! At the end of mass, we made our way to the crowned virgin statue, in order to thank Our Lady for our highly successful pilgrimage, and to ask her to bring us back to Lourdes in the future!  Friday evening brought a final visit to the torchlight procession.  We then zoomed up the huge ramp to allow our less able friends to visit the magnificent crypt, first of the chapels built as a result of Our Lady’s request to Bernadette: “Tell the priest to build a chapel, and let the people come in procession.”

 

Finally, on Saturday morning we were able to celebrate mass together for the last time in Lourdes in the St Frai hospital chapel, followed by a final visit to the grotto, followed by a late lunch and then departure for the airport, finally arriving home bang on time at 10pm.

 

Deo Gratias!