Friday, February 15, 2008

Lourdes, February 11th - 14th 2008

I present today slide show-movie, the record of my pilgrimage to Lourdes. The movie starts with vintage Holy Card followed by old photo of the Grotto as seen in St Bernadette times. We can also have a glimpse of Bernadette and the Grotto when it became celebrated place of worship. These four photographs are introduction to pictures I have taken during my stay in Lourdes. The photos show the main events of these several days. During the first day, on our arrival we first decided to pay a visit to Our Lady and lit votive candles at the Grotto of Messabielle while listening to International Mass open air celebrated just over the river. The several next pictures show exterior and interior of Immaculate Conception Basilica which top up the Crypt - the first chapel built at Our Lady's request. The building beneath is the Rosary Basilica which has a crowned dome. The gold plated crown was founded by faithful Irish Catholics from all over the world. In the afternoon of the first day, we participated in the Eucharistic Procession with over 920 priests gathered at Lourdes to pay homage to Our Lady. The procession took place around the main square in front of Basilicas. The square is adorned with beautiful crowned statue of Our Lady. The first day ended with International Rosary and candle procession concluded with prayers at the Grotto. The following days were marked by Jubilee pilgrimage to places connected with life of St Bernadette where we had an opportunity to collect stickers for Jubilee medal commemorating steps of this meditative journey and needed to fulfill conditions of Indulgence generously granted by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. On the way we visited Soubirou's family home, called Boly Mill, where St Bernadette was born, the original baptisery used for her baptism is now located within new Parish Church that replaced the original one completely destroyed by the fire at the end of XIX century. Interestingly, the front of the Church with baptismal font was the only part of the Church spared from the fire. Next we visited Le Cachot, the desolate former prison cell room measuring a bit over 12 feet square where Bernadette lived with her parents and three other siblings. This loving and very close family lived there in utter poverty in despicable conditions after Bernadette's father lost both business and family house, was left half blinded after accident at the mill he run, was falsely acused of stealing his own flour and had to spent eight days in prison before being finally declared innocent. He never, however, recovered his good name and was thought a thief when first Apparitions took place. The Jubilee pilgrimage ended with the visit to Hospice run by Sisters of Charity where Bernadette received her First Communion and lived there since Apparitions ended to avoid ever increasing attention of the public. Important devotion of the following days were prayers at Lourdes spectacular open air Stations of the Cross located on the steepy hill neighbouring Basilica of Immaculate Conception. The Stations are made of natural size figures and each Station in very vivid manner depicts dramatic moments of Our Lord's Passion. The first Station is usually prayed by the faithful on miniature replica of Santa Scala Church holy steps originating from Pilate palace and located in Rome. Time spent in Lourdes was certainly very special spiritual experience for every pilgrim that can be celebrated only once in fifty years. The faithful were blessed with two multiple sclerosis cures during these first days of Jubilee year celebrations.