Those who lost their lives since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the bereaved, those who are ill and frontline workers will be among those remembered in the first Archdiocese of Dublin ‘Virtual Pilgrimage to Lourdes’ next week.
Due to travel restrictions, for just the second time in over half a century there will be no Dublin diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes this year.
In September 2019, over two thousand people took part – the sick, carers, their medical teams, youth groups, students and priests and parishioners. Always a joyful, uplifting spiritual journey, it was with great sadness that the organisers were forced to cancel plans for 2020 in April last.
Since 1949, when it was led by Archbishop John Charles Mc Quaid, thousands of Dubliners have accompanied sick pilgrims to the French Marian Shrine every September. The only other time the pilgrimage did not proceed was in 1953 when Dublin pilgrims, who had made their way from Westland Row in the city centre, to Dun Laoghaire, Holyhead, Dover, Calais and Paris found they could not leave Paris due to a train strike and had no choice but turn around and make the lengthy journey home again!
On Tuesday 8th September, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will begin the first ever ‘Virtual Lourdes Pilgrimage’ with an Opening Mass in St Bernadette’s Church, Clogher Road. The pilgrimage will take place in six different Churches in the diocese over five days and on webcam. As numbers are restricted in each Church, the wider public are invited to join live on line. For members of the Deaf community there will be an ISL Interpreter at all venues through the virtual journey.
Pilgrimage Director Fr Martin Noone said they were delighted to be able to connect directly with Lourdes on the Virtual Pilgrimage on Saturday next when, while Mass is taking place in Dublin, a Dublin Pilgrimage Candle will be left at the Chapels of Light near the Lourdes Grotto by Mme Fionnuala Brua and Mme Caroline Traynor. Fionnuala and Caroline both live in Lourdes and have worked with JWT on previous Dublin Pilgrimages.
Fr Noone said that while it was quite extraordinary to be able to bring people together in various ways in parish communities and on line for Lourdes 2020, every member of the organising team and the wider Lourdes Pilgrimage community are hoping and praying they will be boarding flights once again this time next year.
Picture: Candles are seen around a statue of Mary in the grotto at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France in this file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).