The annual Armagh Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes comes to a close today, having taken place over the last week from Friday 12 to Wednesday 17 May. Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland lead the pilgrimage, which was organised by Father Eamonn McCamley, parish priest of Keady Parish.
The annual pilgrimage is very popular in the Archdiocese of Armagh. Last year, more than 700 pilgrims undertook the journey, including 160 assisted pilgrims, with a team of eight doctors, 80 nurses and a large number of carers and youth pilgrims. This year’s pilgrimage is accompanied by the choir from Derrynoose in the parish of Keady.
Lourdes, a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees, received world prominence in 1858 due to the Marian apparitions seen by the then fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous, who was later canonized. Today, Lourdes hosts around six million visitors every year from all corners of the globe. It is the most popular pilgrimage site for Irish people outside our country and its ongoing popularity has transformed Lourdes into the second most important centre of tourism in France, second only to Paris, and the third most important site of international Catholic pilgrimage after Rome and the Holy Land.