Last Monday the 3rd of September at an early hour, 30 pilgrims boarded the coach to Stansted Airport. Our parish pilgrimage had begun!

Our flight to Lourdes was uneventful and after registration at the refurbished Astoria Hotel we had our first visit to the Domain and Mass at the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows. The pilgrimage began in earnest on Tuesday with morning Mass at the Poor Clare Convent conveniently opposite the hotel. It is always a pleasure and a privilege to celebrate Mass at the convent. After that we had a walking tour of Lourdes and some of us had a first experience of the Baths. Later in the afternoon we participated in the Eucharistic Procession.

On Wednesday a number of us went to Gavernie with Mass at the old abbey church of St Savin, a beautiful former Benedictine abbey.

We then travelled on to Gavernie close to the Pyrenees where we visited the parish church of St John the Baptist.

Some of us enjoyed a walk alongside the river.

The history of Gavernie is interesting as it was a former staging post on the pilgrim route to the shrine St James of Compestela.

On Thursday we participated in the lower Stations of the Cross. The stations are represented by beautiful carved marble figures. Afterwards some of the group visited the Boly Mill and the Cachot closely associated with the early life of St Bernadette and her family. In the afternoon we went to Bartres where St Bernadette spent some of her early childhood. Mass at the ornate church of St John the Baptist included the veneration of a relic of St Bernadette. We then spent a pleasant hour or so at the Lake of Lourdes. In the evening we processed with many others in the Candlelit Rosary procession.

And so to Friday our last day Mass was at the Sacred Heart Chapel where anointing of the sick took place, after which we went to the Grotto where the parish candle was lit and prayers said for parish and personal intentions.

Our flight back to Stansted was on time and we arrived back in New Southgate safe and sound.

The pilgrimage was uplifting and refreshing. The excellent weather was a bonus. We were fortunate with our Tangney Tour representative Susan in Lourdes. She was unfailingly helpful and knowledgeable. Fr Vincent gave generously of his time and as a result of his spiritual direction throughout we all came back renewed and refreshed in our faith. A memorable pilgrimage enjoyed by all.


Patrick Bolger

Pilgrimage Leader.

8th of September 2012.