Go to Cashel Emly Main Page

Lourdes Pilgrimage

The Cashel and Emly Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes takes place from June 16 - 21 each year. Conor Hayes and Eugene Everard have organised the pilgrimage for the last ten years and are due to finish this level of involvement with the completion of the 2001 Pilgrimage.

Submit a Prayer Request to be included in the prayer in Lourdes

Two Views of Lourdes
Two views of Lourdes are presented here. Valery Barlow describes the experiece of being a pilgrim on the Diocesan Pilgrimage while Mary O'Connor reflects on travelling and working as a helper.

Pilgrim's View


Since 1980, I have been privileged to visit Lourdes eight times. Notwithstanding that, as a little girl I did not know or fully understand what Lourdes was all about. However, my dear mother, who was extremely ill at the time, had always wanted to go on pilgrimage to Our Lady's Shrine and having being suggested to my father that the journey be made, a life-long dream was to be realised for her.

At Lourdes, when you watch the enormous crowds of people coming from so many different countries, or when you walk down the streets, with their vast array of shops and cafés, you have to ask yourself; what is it about this place that attracts so many people and such activity? It is only by being here that you get a sense of what it is all about and of the healing power of the place, as indeed I have discovered.

My mother was drawn to Lourdes because of her love for Our Lady and for St. Bernadette. On reflection I know she found great peace and serenity in her heart while she was there, peace and serenity that allowed her the grace to let go of life. Sadly she died a week after returning from Lourdes. Everyone who visits Lourdes receives healing of one kind or another, be it physical or spiritual. My mother found the graces necessary to allow her to let go of this world and to face the unimaginable serenity and satisfaction of finally savouring salvation.

There is a certain magic about this place which attracts close to six million pilgrims each year. The air is filled with love, helpfulness and friendliness as when Our Lady appeared to Bernadette at the foot of the rock, she created a world, where people could find stillness in their lives.

I am always overwhelmed with emotion every time I return to the Grotto as I feel my body heaving a sigh of relief - I am so happy to be back. Gazing up at the statue of Our Blessed Mother brings such joy to my soul.

For me, the baths in Lourdes have a very special healing significance, as one year when I returned to Lourdes after being sick, the tears poured down my cheeks, as I bathed in the waters. They were tears of gratitude for just being alive and healthy again and for being able to return to say a sweet 'thank you' to Our Lady for taking care of me.

Every afternoon at three o'clock, thousands of people participate in the procession of the Blessed Sacrament and it is such an uplifting experience, just to listen to the soulful hymns, as thousands adore and praise Jesus in this procession of faith.

The sick in Lourdes are inspirational. They are incredibly grateful for any assistance they receive, and their example of faith, despite their circumstances, is so moving.

The helpers who accompany the sick to this holy shrine are truly amazing, not only for the work they do, but also for their dedication to those in their charge. Nothing of the daily 'mini miracles' would be possible but for the helpers' total willingness to give, to love and to serve.

Lourdes is also a very spiritual and moving place. It touches the hearts of all who go there in a variety of different ways and at the various Masses, there is such an expression of faith and hope as to be almost tangible.

At night time, I just love to visit the Grotto, to see the glowing lights from the many candles against the darkness of the night and I love to just sit and listen to the river Gave as it flows gently by and to be lost in prayer, in that special place, under the illuminated statue of the Mother of God.

It is impossible to capture the total reality of what Lourdes is and of what it means to me. I can only say, that for me, it is thoroughly uplifting and inspirational. To touch the rock under the place where the apparitions occurred, and to bathe in the refreshing waters close by, have a profound and lasting effect.

I hope to return to this 'little piece of Heaven' often. It is the perfect place to strengthen my faith and to deepen my love for Mary, the Mother of Our Lord. It also provides an opportunity to learn more about 'The Little Bernadette' who has given the world so much by way of faith and example.

To conclude; Our Lord often said to those who wanted to know more about him and his message 'Come and See'. With regard to Lourdes, if you want to know more about the place and the message 'Go and See'!

The Cashel and Emly Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes takes place from June 16 - 21 each year.

Go to Cashel Emly Main Page

Two Views of Lourdes

A Helper's View

Mary O'Connor

Lourdes Helpers

On June 16 this year people from the four corners of Cashel and Emly travelled to Lourdes, a place of holiness and healing, a place close to our Blessed Mother’s heart and to the hearts of many people from our diocese who have been part of the pilgrimage experience down through the years.

From Templemore to Caherconlish, from Boher to Mullinahone - over eight hundred people marked this special Jubilee Year by travelling on this our thirtieth annual pilgrimage. This was the biggest number yet from our diocese and involved considerable planning and some fund-raising to ensure all would go well.

The pilgrimage was led by His Grace, Archbishop Dermot Clifford. The group consisted of fourteen priests, two doctors, thirty-three nurses, thirty handmaids, thirty male helpers and twenty-nine youth helpers. But of course, the most important people on the pilgrimage were our invalids and this year we were privileged to have one hundred.

We were blessed with the most beautiful weather this year and this greatly enhanced all the outdoor ceremonies and particularly the opening Mass at the Grotto on the first morning. The torch-light processions on balmy evenings lifted all our hearts.

Part of the pilgrimage involves a sharing of our stories - both spoken and unspoken, all of which helps to create a great bond within the group. The great spirit of caring and sharing was tangible, not only during the formal ceremonies, but also at the many unforgettable social get-togethers after sun down.

Each year many people volunteer their services, as helpers, to ensure that all those travelling are comfortable. The camaraderie, friendships formed, and the sense of a job well done, are fitting rewards for all those involved.

The focal point of the pilgrimage is the Grotto itself. Here people make many visits and find great peace, consolation and healing. Each pilgrim becomes lost in his or her prayerful thoughts, while at the same time, being mindful of the suffering of others all around. It is here we especially remember the people back home who had asked us to pray for them.

The baths are very much part of the ritual at Lourdes as the faith of the invalids is especially manifested here. The hymns and prayers led by our own priests over the five days, add to this profound experience. Indeed, we are blessed that our priests are gifted with such beautiful voices.

Many candles are constantly lit by individual pilgrims at the Shrine of Our Lady and there are also large candles lit by groups from dioceses worldwide. Our own diocesan candle was the largest yet, our way of marking the Jubilee Pilgrimage. It was lit and placed in a prominent position by members of our group and it continued to light long after we had left Lourdes, its flickering flame expressing our heartfelt intentions and sentiments, a feeling that nourished us all as we turned towards home.

The closing Mass, before our return home, marked the end of the pilgrimage. This was a happy occasion and a time for recognising how blessed we were to have had the ‘Lourdes experience’. There was also some sadness as we prepared to go our separate ways after a most moving and uplifting few days together.

At mid-day on June 21, as our plane hovered over the Shannon estuary, the Captain announced that the local weather was wet and windy, confirmation to us all that we were well and truly home. Still, many of us were quietly promising ourselves that we would return to Lourdes again some day.

Lourdes -A Website created by a partnership of the Town of Lourdes and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes

Two Views of Lourdes
These were first Published in Foundations Winter 2000.

¦ Top of Page ¦
¦ Main Page ¦ Parish List ¦ Priests ¦
¦ Contact ¦ About ¦
Copyright © 1999-2001. Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly.
All rights reserved.