Nottingham to Lourdes and Back Again

The restoration of the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes and the arrival of the relics of St Bernadette.

Monday, July 18, 2022

In July 2022, the Marian Shrine in the South of France, celebrates its 3rd virtual world pilgrimage ‘Lourdes United.’ Created in 2020, in the midst of some of the darker months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ‘e-pilgrimage’ sought to bring together pilgrims from all over the world for a moment of common prayer, to rekindle hope and fraternity. This initiative drew over 80 million viewers! This year has a special focus on St Bernadette with the ‘Lourdes United’ pilgrimage being held on the 16th July: the anniversary of the final apparition of the Virgin Mary to the little Bigourdan Saint. You can follow the celebrations, learn more about Lourdes and even light a candle here: https://www.lourdes-france.org/en/lourdes-united-in-prayer-with-bernadette-2/

The Diocese has its own significant Lourdes ‘moments’ this year- with the restoration of the annual diocesan pilgrimage following the pandemic and the arrival of the relics of St Bernadette.

After a 3-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Diocese of Nottingham was back in Lourdes on pilgrimage. Lead by Bishop Patrick McKinney, a smaller group of 58 pilgrims of all ages from across the Diocese shared a joyful few days in Lourdes and bought with them the prayers and intentions of the whole diocese. The Shrine officials were pleased to see once more, the instantly recognisable vibrant green Robin Hood hats back in the Sanctuary.

Delays at Heathrow could not dampen the spirits of the hardy pilgrims who were out in good force for the early morning Grotto Mass with the Diocese of Derry on the first day of the pilgrimage. The following days included opportunities to participate in the Torchlight and Blessed Sacrament Processions, with Nottingham diocesan pilgrims supporting practical elements of these grand ceremonies. There were quieter group moments for Reconciliation, Stations of the Cross, to visit The Baths and make the new ‘Water Gesture’ and to pray the rosary for vocations. On Thursday, Bishop Patrick blessed and lit the ‘diocesan candle’, representing all the prayers of both pilgrims gathered but also those of the whole diocese. There was even time for some high jinks outside the Rosary Basilica on the last day, check out our Instagram account to see what we are talking about here!

It is hoped that next year will see the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes return to full strength, but it was so good to be back in the Sanctuary once more this year. You can check out our photo gallery from the pilgrimage here: https://flickr.com/photos/dioceseofnottingham/albums/72177720300465270

For those unable to join the pilgrimage this year, there will be the opportunity to make a little Lourdes pilgrimage a lot closer to home this Autumn. On the 6th-7th October 2022, the relics of St Bernadette will be visiting our diocese and we hope as many people as possible will be able to venerate them at St Bernadette’s Church, Scunthorpe and Nottingham Cathedral. Part of a nationwide tour, the ‘once in a lifetime event’ will provide an opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to experience the special gifts and charisms of Lourdes right on their doorsteps. In his letter on this ‘Tour’, HE Cardinal Vincent Nichols recognised how the pandemic had made pilgrimage very difficult or impossible over the last two years. He hoped that this ‘very special pilgrimage’ of the relics of St Bernadette will be:

‘a welcome opportunity to bear active witness to our Faith, joining with one another across our many communities to encounter God’s love and find spiritual, emotional, and psychological healing and renewal.’

The full programmes of events for the visit to Scunthorpe and Nottingham will be released shortly, but it is one special moment you do not want to miss! In the meantime, you can find more details and resources about the Tour here: https://stbernadette.org.uk/

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