The 89th annual Liverpool Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes begins this Friday, 19 July. The Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool, will be leading the pilgrimage travelling with over 1,200 pilgrims, who will also be accompanied by Bishop Tom Williams, Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool. The theme of this year’s pilgrimage is ‘Blessed are the poor, for the Kingdom of God is theirs’ (Luke 6:20). About 400 of the pilgrims will travel by air on three special flights from Liverpool John Lennon Airport, with 100 designated as assisted pilgrims of whom 34 will be in the special accommodation of the Accueil St Frai and 12 in the Hotel Solitude.
What’s more, 400 young people will be taking part in the Liverpool Youth Pilgrimage to Lourdes travelling by coach from Chorley, Knowsley, Leyland, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton, Warrington, Widnes and Wigan. Nine coaches will be leaving from points across the Archdiocese at approximately 7.30am on Thursday, 18 July, to start the 26-hour journey. While in Lourdes and immediately following this arduous journey, the young pilgrims will get up as early as 4.30am to work in the hospital, while others follow them down in order to assist the pilgrims to the different places of devotion and to Mass.
This year in Lourdes is one of anniversaries: it is 175 years since Saint Bernadette’s birth on 7 January 1844 and her baptism two days later, while 16 April was the 140th anniversary of her death in 1879. Father Des Seddon, director of the Lourdes Pilgrimage, says: ‘This year is one of special celebration in Lourdes as we commemorate the three anniversaries of St Bernadette. It was to Bernadette, who lived in poverty, that Mary appeared, reflecting our theme, “Blessed are the poor for the Kingdom of God is theirs”.’
On arrival in Lourdes on Friday, Mass will be celebrated at 8.30pm in the Chapel Notre Dame des Douleurs and again in St Bernadette’s church at 2.30pm on Saturday afternoon. A highlight of the pilgrimage will be at 8.30am on Sunday morning, 21 July, when Mass will be celebrated in the Grotto where it is believed that the Virgin Mary appeared to St Bernadette on 18 occasions in 1858. Sunday afternoon will see a Eucharistic Procession and a Service of Reconciliation.
On Monday 22 July, Mass will be celebrated in the Rosary Basilica and later pilgrims will join in the traditional Marian Torchlight Procession at 9pm. On Tuesday pilgrims will participate in the Stations of the Cross during the morning before Mass in St Bernadette’s church.
On Wednesday, the International Mass will be celebrated in the Basilica of St Pius X, and in the evening there will be a Holy Hour in St Bernadette’s church. On Thursday 25 July, the pilgrims return to the Basilica of St Pius X for Mass of the anointing of the sick and in the afternoon the Esplanade Altar will be the setting for a Farewell Service.
The pilgrims return to Liverpool next Friday, 26 July.
A copy of the timetable for the pilgrimage is attached here.