Friday, 30 May 2008

Chemin du Jubile at Lourdes

As part of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions, and as the devotion to be undertaken to gain the indulgence attached to the pilgrimage for the anniversary, there is a "jubilee way". I was lucky enough to follow this way all in one go, one afternoon, with relatively little difficulty. Others, particularly those trying to undertake it as a group, encountered waits and crowds at each of the four "stations" on the way.

The first station on the way is the parish Church of Lourdes, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is where St Bernadette was baptised, and it is the baptismal font that is the focus of this visit. My photo, above, shows the Blessed Sacrament altar. When I visited, every chapel in the church was decorated with flowers like this.

The second station is the "cachot", the disused prison where Bernadette and her family lived in poverty. I have no photo because, at the time of my visit, other people were making their visit and I thought it better not to disturb them. This is just five minutes walk from the parish church.

The third station comprised together St Michael's gate to the shrine, the Jubilee icon and the grotto itself. There are a number of identical copies of the icon under the arches as you approach the grotto (photo above), and the intention of this station is that the pilgrim venerate the icon on their way to visit the grotto. The photo of the grotto below shows the inclement nature of the weather on the day I did the Jubilee Way (see the umbrellas!).

The fourth station was the oratory of the Hospice. This is now the local hospital; in St Bernadette's time it was a convent, and was where she went to school soon after the apparitions. It is where Bernadette received Holy Communion for the first time. This was the only one of the stations where I encountered a queue or delay, because I arrived at about the same time as three large groups of pilgrims. Again, I didn't feel able to take a photo inside the oratory because of the other visitors, so the photo below is of the outside of the present hospital chapel which is adjacent to the oratory as it was in Bernadette's time.

At each station, there was sticker to be collected and added to your pilgrim card. My completed card is shown below. The stickers start at the top left, showing Bernadette's baptism, then follow round in an anticlockwise direction towards her first Holy Communion by way of her stay in the cachot and the apparitions at the grotto. In a nice touch, the words of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette on the reverse of the card are not in French but, as they were related by Bernadette herself, in the local Lourdes dialect: "Que soy era Immaculada Councepciou".


Anonymous said...

i have made a start on the pilgrim's progress in Lourdes and am enjoying it so far , frpm zero degrees

Mac McLernon said...

Congratulations on getting all four stickers... quite an achievement.

I was beginning to think that I wouldn't be able to get all of mine without resorting to some sort of bribery, but then found myself with a little unexpected free time on the Saturday morning. I cheated a little: I took a taxi to the hospital and walked down to the church... I'd already collected the cachot and St. Michael's gate stickers!

It was good to see you - if only in passing!