Deaf Service Lourdes 2017

Thursday 3rd August 2017

Lourdes; it is always a privilege and a pleasure to be there, and last week was no exception. We joined the Westminster Diocesan pilgrimage and headed off to the South of France.

Lourdes; it is always a privilege and a pleasure to be there, and last week was no exception.  We joined the Westminster Diocesan pilgrimage and headed off to the South of France.

Lourdes Bascilica

It was in Lourdes in 1858 that a young girl, Bernadette Soubirous, saw 18 apparitions of the  Our Lady at the grotto in Massabielle.  On 11th February she was collecting firewood with her sister and a friend when for the first time she witnessed the first apparition of her aquero the word in her local dialect that Bernadette used to describe the lady she saw. Her sister and friend saw nothing.  Over the following 5 months her aquero appeared 18 times in total.  On 25th February the vision Bernadette saw told her to drink of the waters and eat the herbs.  Before this the ground had been muddy, after this clear water flowed at the grotto. On 2nd March Bernadette reported to her family that the lady had told her that a church should be built here and that people should come in procession.  Many times Bernadette was asked what the name of the lady she saw was called, the response she got was Que soi era immaculada concepcion;  I am the Immaculate Conception.  Many people doubted Bernadette.  She was interviewed by the authorities in the church and despite the opposition she faced she maintained her story.  In 1862 the Church authorities accepted the truth of the apparitions and since then many people have travelled to Lourdes to seek healing in the waters. 

Our Lady - Grotto in Lourdes


Following Our Lady’s words to Bernadette we come in procession to the churches built and wash in the waters.  We started our opening Mass at St Bernadette Church celebrated by Bishop Paul McAleenan and were delighted that Fr Paulo Bagini joined with Caritas Deaf Service to sign the Eucharistic Prayer.  In the afternoon the young people lead us in a catechesis on the rosary using poetry dance and music.  In the evening the penitential service took place in the underground basilica of Pius X.  The next day the moving service of the anointing of the sick took place and in the afternoon we went to the parish church and had Mass there once again with Bishop Paul celebrating the Mass.  The evening we were blessed with good weather for the torchlight procession and with candles held high we all joined in praying the rosary and singing Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.


St Joseph's Mass Lourdes
Bishop Paul McAleenan

On Wednesday there is an International Mass in Lourdes but also this year the group from Caritas St Joseph’s had a separate Mass.  Bishop Paul McAleenan signed the Mass and the students from St Joseph’s acted out the Wedding at Cana.  The afternoon was at leisure with a trip to the Lac du Lourdes.  Our evening concluded with a meditation on the Stations of the Cross written especially for the pilgrimage.  Pictures of the High Stations were shown on a big screen which were accompanied by readings which told the story of the road to Golgotha told from the perspective of the apostle Peter.


Thursday Mass was celebrated by Bishop John Wilson who explained to us all the meaning of the word “terebinth” (It is a tree).  We were at the Cathedral of the Trees at the Cite St Pierre so we were surrounded by our own “terebinths” as we had a view of the mountains as the back drop to Mass.  The Cite St Pierre was built at the request of Bernadette.  After she left Lourdes and joined the convent, she discovered that poor people were finding that it was costing too much to stay in Lourdes so a place was built for those people to stay.  The original place burned down and then the land at the Cite St Pierre was purchased and to this day provides low cost accommodation for people visiting Lourdes.  In the afternoon many pilgrims visited the baths and washed in the waters as Mary had told Bernadette to do.



Our closing Mass at the Grotto was celebrated by Cardinal Vincent Nichols.  Cardinal Vincent reminded us of the theme of Lourdes this year.  The Lord has indeed done great things for us.  In the afternoon many of the pilgrims concluded the week by praying the Stations of the Cross.

Next year maybe you would like to go to Lourdes yourself?  The CDA are joining the International Pilgrimage to Lourdes for Deaf Catholics from 10th – 14th September.  Applications forms are available now from the CDA.

Crown Virgin Statue


Registered Charity No. 233699

© 2018 Caritas Westminster

Privacy Policy

Caritas Westminster

Vaughan House

46 Francis Street

London SW1P 1QN

020 7931 6077

Website : beachshore