The Relics of St Bernadette arrived at Aylesford Priory on the evening of 24th October 2022. Despite it being the end of October and half-term, the visit was blessed with good Autumn weather and the support of parishioners from across the Diocese.
During the visit, the faithful enjoyed venerating the relics of the much-loved saint and attending Mass, celebrated by the Friars, the Apostolic Nuncio and Bishop Paul Hendricks. A moving and popular torchlight procession also took place on each full day of the pilgrimage. Lourdes is a place of grace and healing and a special service for the anointing of the sick was held, in addition to a number of special to pray individually and collectively.
The Friars, led by Fr Francis Kemsley O. Carm, were especially pleased to welcome Archbishop Gugerotti, the Papal Nuncio, who visited the historic Marian Shrine for the first time. In addition, Bernard Lavery, the Relics Pilgrimage Director and BBC South East, who interviewed the Apostolic Nuncio and a number of pilgrims to produce an article for the BBC evening news.
Many of the faithful expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to experience Lourdes in Southwark, and have since made many requests for similar pilgrimages in the future.
The relics moved on to Willesden in London during the afternoon of 28th October 2022 and will reach their final destination in the UK of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family in London before returning to Lourdes.
The Archdiocese of Southwark would like to express thanks to Fr Kemsley, the Aylesford Friars, the staff and volunteers, including stewards from the Knights of St Columba, for hosting and caring for the Relics of St Bernadette, and for bringing great joy to Catholics throughout London and Kent.
As a memento of this special pilgrimage, the Archdiocese is pleased to share the homilies of Archbishop Gugerotti and Bishop Paul Hendricks.
Homily by His Excellency Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, Apostolic Nuncio of Great Britain
Homily recording at Aylesford Priory, with photographs taken by Marcin Mazur
Homily by Bishop Paul Hendricks