Lourdes 2009 - Homepage

Contact: Booking and Information

The Prairie Stations of the Cross

The Story of Lourdes

Pilgrimage Itinerary

The Path of Bernadette

Contact: Youth Team

The Calvary Stations of the Cross

Prayers of Saint Bernadette

Southwark's Daily Prayer Intentions

Southwark Lourdes Diary




Please click on the photo to view a larger image

Outward Journey


Lourdes is a town in the foothills of the Pyrenees, the range of mountains that forms the natural border between France and Spain. It is 580 miles south of London. In fact, if it were possible to travel from St George's Cathedral down the exact longitudinal coordinate for 580 miles, you would land 2 miles west of the grotto - an hour's walk!

150 years ago, Lourdes had no more than 4,000 inhabitants and yet last year 8 million pilgrims visited during the Jubilee Year. Pope Benedict XVI made his own pilgrimage from 13th until 15th September 2008.

Our Youth Team with the Southwark Catholic Youth Service left yesterday by coach from the Cathedral and the rest of Southwark's 130 pilgrims travelled out today. Those who took the plane landed at the small local airport - Tarbes Ossun Lourdes - about thirty minutes drive to Lourdes. The more adventurous took the train: Eurostar to Paris (about 2 hours), then south across Paris from the Gare du Nord to Gare Montparnasse to catch the high-speed TGV for the 500 miles to Lourdes (about 6 hours).





Prayer Intention for Saturday:
For Archbishop Kevin, Bishop John, Bishop Pat and Bishop Paul: that the Lord will bless them and guide them in their ministry as Bishops in our Diocese of Southwark. We also remember in prayer Archbishop Michael, Bishop Howard and Bishop John.



This morning, Deacon Michael met with all the Southwark pilgrims at the Hotel Pardoue for a pilgrimage briefing with the opportunity to ask any questions. He stressed that the pilgrimage programme was designed for the benefit of all pilgrims, but that we should not consider every event obligatory. Pilgrims were free to choose what they felt they could do and wished to do. Bishop Patrick spoke about the difference between being a tourist and a pilgrim.


This afternoon at 3:30pm in St Bernadette's Church, Bishop Patrick was principal celebrant at the Gathering Mass - the opening celebration of the pilgrimage for all dioceses and groups that travel with the Catholic Association. In his homily, Bishop Patrick said that for Bernadette Lourdes was a place of prayer, peace and penance - and so it is for us. The Mass celebrated was that of 'Our Lady, Queen and Mother'.

Read Bishop Patrick's homily at the Gathering Mass

After the homily the helpers' hands were blessed with oil and towards the end of the Mass Bishop Crispian Hollis, Bishop of Portsmouth, presented the Hospitalit insignia.


This evening the Torchlight Procession was led by the Catholic Association. Bishop Paul, the President of the Catholic Association Trust, intoned the Creed at the beginning of the Torchlight Procession, followed the statue of Our Lady, said the concluding prayer and gave the blessing.

The photos show scenes before the procession.



There was also the opportunity to join a walking tour of Lourdes and to visit the Cachot, where Bernadette and her family lived at the time of the apparitions.





Prayer Intention for Sunday:
For all Priests and Deacons in the Southwark Diocese: that, called to serve the communities they are sent to as Ministers of Word and Sacrament, they will be faithful witnesses to the Gospel. We also remember all the Religious Communities of Priests, Brothers and Sisters and ask that their works may be blessed.


We gathered in the St Pius X Basilica at 9:30 am this morning for the International Mass. We were among 25,000 pilgrims that filled the Basilica, which was consecrated by Cardinal Angelo Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII) on 25th. March 1958 to celebrate the centenary of the apparitions.

This rather austere concrete Basilica spreads out underground between St. Michael's Gate and the Statue of the Crowned Virgin. It is in the form of a vast upturned ship - 191m long and 61m wide.

At the Mass, we felt a strong sense of unity with the universal Church. After Mass, we processed to the Grotto for the Angelus.


We had the opportunity to join the Blessed Sacrament Procession at 5:00 pm. Here are some photos taken before the procession.

Father Wilfrid McGreal OCarm (left) gave live broadcasts from Lourdes
for Radio Kent on Saturday and Sunday mornings





Prayer Intention for Monday:
For the Parishes of the Southwark Diocese: that they may be places of welcome, places of love and service, places of joy and hope.



An early start this morning for our Pilgrimage Mass at the Grotto. We assembled at the statue of the Crowned Virgin at 8:00 am and made our way together to the Grotto for Mass at 8:30 am. Our Mass celebrated the 'Immaculate Conception' and the principal celebrant was Bishop Michael Evans, Bishop of East Anglia. The homily was given by Bishop John Fleming, Bishop of Killala - his diocese is on the north-west coast of Ireland and is on pilgrimage to Lourdes this week.

Read Bishop John's homily at the Grotto Mass

10:00 am in front of the Basilica

Our photos feature the young people who took part in the Catholic Association pilgrimage - including the Southwark Youth Team with the Southwark Catholic Youth Service, some of whom were from the John Fisher School, Purley, the Richard Challoner School, New Malden, St. Philomena's School, Carshalton, and St Joseph's College, Beulah Hill.



This afternoon at 2:15 pm Father Wilfrid McGreal OCarm led us in the Stations of the Cross. We climbed the 'high Stations' on Calvary, accompanying the Lord on his way to his crucifixion and celebrating his resurrection.

Photos of the Calvary Stations

The empty tomb






Prayer Intention for Tuesday:
For the Young People of our Diocese: that they may be open to the Lord's call in their lives; that they may know that they are loved and cared for.


This morning our Mass was offered with the Portsmouth pilgrims and members of the Catholic Association at 8:30 am in the Upper Basilica - the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

(Photo: Br Lawrence OP)


Many of us joined the coach excursion to Gavarnie. The thirty mile journey south climbed 1000 metres along roads with hairpin bends and steep cliffs rising and falling at their edges. The journey lasted about an hour and a half. On arrival, we were rewarded with the magnificent views of the Cirque de Gavarnie - a majestic glacial amphitheatre rising to over 3000 metres. The village of Gavarnie was the last village in France in the Middle Ages on the old pilgrim route to the shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. A coffee or beer at one of the cafes, a browse round the souvenir shops and a walk along the banks of the stream ... and donkey rides for the children.






Prayer Intention for Wednesday:
For the Agencies and Commissions of our Diocese; for all involved in the work of Catechesis and Evangelisation, Justice and Peace, Christian Unity, Liturgy and Worship, Schools and Education, Pastoral Care for the sick, the homeless, vulnerable adults and children; for those involved with Young People: that the Lord will bless their work and all who come into their care.


This morning at 10:00 am we attended our Penitential Service in St Bernadette's Church. Fr John Twist SJ presided and gave the homily. We had the opportunity of individual Confession.


This afternoon at 2:00 pm Fr Simon Blakesley led the Stations of the Cross for our sick pilgrims. We used the new Stations that have been installed on the level ground of the Prairie, which is on the opposite side of the River Gave to the Grotto. They were carved in white Carrera marble by the sculptor Maria de Faykod over a period of five years and opened for the 150th Anniversary of the Apparitions last year.

Photos of the Prairie Stations


At 4:00 pm we gathered in St Bernadette's Church for Mass. The Mass was prepared by the children. Bishop Peter Doyle, Bishop of Northampton, was the principal celebrant and Mgr Tony Rogers gave the homily.

Some of our photos show our children acting out the Gospel.


This evening the Southwark pilgrims joined the Torchlight Procession with Bishop Patrick.





Prayer Intention for Thursday:
For Vocations to the Priesthood and the Diaconate for the Southwark Diocese; for Vocations to the Religious and Consecrated Life; for those called to the Vocation of Marriage; for those called to the single life: that they will respond to the Lord's invitation and feel his presence in their lives.


This morning at 10:30 am we celebrated our Mass and Anointing of the Sick at St Bernadette's Church. Bishop Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton, was principal celebrant and gave the homily. Assisting him with the anointing were Bishop Peter Doyle, Bishop Michael Evans, Bishop Paul Hendricks, Bishop Crispian Hollis, Bishop Patrick Lynch sscc, Father John Twist SJ, Father Wilfrid McGreal OCarm and Father Simon Blakesley.

It was a very moving celebration, filled with the hope of God's healing grace.

Photos taken before and during the Mass:



Those of us who are sick or disabled - assisted pilgrims - met at the Statue of the Crowned Virgin at 1:15 pm and went to the Grotto. We passed behind the altar, where we saw the spring of water in which Our Lady asked St Bernadette to wash, and then we touched the rock underneath the niche where Our Lady appeared. A simple act of devotion, but one which, perhaps more than any other, unites us to the heart of this holy place and invokes its many blessings.

We took with us a large candle, which was placed near to the Grotto. A large candle, but a small thanksgiving for all the graces of our pilgrimage.


Our pilgrimage is drawing to its close and Bishop Patrick, our pilgrimage leader, led us in a short Service of Thanksgiving at the Esplanade Altar at 3:00 pm this afternoon.


This evening, Bishop Patrick and Deacon Michael hosted a social gathering for the Southwark pilgrims in the bar of the Hotel Pardoue. 




Prayer Intention for Friday:
That our Diocese may reach out to all and be a beacon of God's love in the world.


We gathered in St Bernadette's Church at 8:00 am this morning for our Sending Forth Mass. Bishop Crispian Hollis, Bishop of Portsmouth, was principal celebrant and gave the homily. At the end of our Mass, Bishop Patrick Lynch sscc, who has led our pilgrimage throughout the week, led the Sending Forth Prayer and farewell.

We said farewell to the friends we has made from other dioceses and groups that had travelled with the Catholic Association and those from Southwark who were not travelling home with us. For most of us, the souvenirs of our pilgrimage were simple - a bottle of water from the Lourdes spring, a rosary that had touched the rock at the Grotto ... and the memories of a happy and grace-filled week.

And a final glimpse of the Grotto ...


At Tarbes Ossun Lourdes Airport ...




Southwark's Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes


Our Lady of Lourdes
Pray for us

Saint Bernadette
Pray for us




Return to Southwark Website Homepage