The eighty-first annual Liverpool Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes, begins this coming Friday, 22 July 2010. Bishop Vincent Malone, will be leading the pilgrimage travelling with over 1,300 pilgrims.
340 of the pilgrims will travel by air on two special flights from Liverpool John Lennon Airport while a further 400 pilgrims have other flights or overland coaches, 130 will travel as sick pilgrims of which 90 will be in the special accommodation of the Accueil St Frai. A further 22 pilgrims who are unable to fly will leave Liverpool on Thursday 21 July, aboard a special Jumbulance.
450 young people will be taking part in the Liverpool Youth Pilgrimage travelling by coach from Chorley, Knowsley, the Isle of Man, Leyland, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton, Warrington, Widnes and Wigan to join them. Ten coaches will be leaving from points across the Archdiocese at 7.30 am on Friday morning to begin the twenty-six hour journey. Whilst in Lourdes and immediately following this arduous journey, the young pilgrims have to get up as early as 4:30 am to work in the hospital, while others follow them down in order to push the pilgrims in wheelchairs to the different places of devotion and to Mass.
After travelling from Liverpool the pilgrimage will begin with Mass on Friday evening, which will be celebrated in the Chapel of Notre Dame de Doulours. The theme of this year’s pilgrimage is ‘Praying the “Our Father” with Bernadette’. On the morning of Saturday 23 July there will be a Mass of Welcome in St Bernadette’s Church attended by all the sick and helpers. On Sunday morning, 24 July, Mass will be celebrated in the Grotto, the holiest place in Lourdes, where it is believed that the Virgin Mary appeared to St Bernadette on eighteen occasions 152 years ago in 1858. Sunday afternoon and evening will see a Eucharistic procession and a Service of Reconciliation.
On Monday 25 July Mass will be celebrated in the Rosary Basilica and pilgrims will join in the traditional Marian Torchlight Procession at 9.00 pm. On Tuesday 26 July after morning Mass in St Bernadette’s church they will take part in the Stations of the Cross during the afternoon. On Wednesday 27 July the pilgrims will join the International Celebration of Mass in the St Pius X Basilica with others from throughout the world taking part. On Thursday 28 July they return to the St Pius X Basilica for the Mass of Anointing of the Sick and on Thursday afternoon the Rosary Basilica will be the setting for a Farewell Service.
As well as attending the formal services listed on the timetable there will be opportunities for the pilgrims to visit the Grotto for private prayer and for the sick pilgrims to bathe in the baths at the shrine. In the early evenings pilgrims will be able to take part in the Eucharistic Procession at 5.00 pm and later at 9.00 pm in the Marian Torchlight Procession.
The pilgrims return to Liverpool on Friday 29 July.