Friday, 3 September 2010

Lourdes 2: in the footsteps of Bernadette

On the Thursday of our stay in Lourdes, the planned activity was to walk the "Path of Bernadette" from Lourdes to the village of Bartres. The idea had been to walk up, visit Bartres with a picnic, and then return to Lourdes.

As it turned out, that particular day was untypically warm, even for August. The Haut-Pyrenees enjoyed record high temperatures, with the thermometer reaching 39 Celsius. Walking any distance was not recommended!

Plan B involved driving up to Bartres instead, and, after visiting the parish Church of St John the Baptist, spending quite a bit of time under the trees in the sheepfold, reading and eating our picnic.

Later in the week, we visited the other places associated with Bernadette's life in Lourdes. Pages on the website of the shrine about each of these places can be accessed from the interactive map here. We enjoyed a particularly good visit to the Hospice, where Bernadette made her first Communion. Our timing meant that, for each of our visits, we avoided large crowds and so were able to make peaceful visits.

This page summarises the 16 apparitions of the Virgin Mary to St Bernadette. Bernadette responds, in the case of each apparition, to an invitation from the "Lady" to visit her at the grotto. It is, I think, the last of the apparitions that appeals to me most: "I saw only the Blessed Virgin, and she was more beautiful than ever!"

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