The annual Clogher Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes will depart this Friday 6 July with 300 pilgrims travelling to the Marian Shrine in France. The pilgrimage, which will continues until Wednesday 11 July, will be led by Diocesan Administrator of Clogher, Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, who will be joined pilgrimage director Mr Brian Armitage and spiritual director Fr Noel McGahan PP, Clogher and Eskra.
The pilgrimage to Lourdes is a central feature of the Clogher Diocesan life and is especially important to the sick of the diocese. The 300 pilgrims will be accompanied by sixty-three members of the diocesan youth ministry organisation, Clogher don Óige, who will assist the pilgrims in a variety of ways and add their own special contribution to the pilgrimage experience.
During the six day pilgrimage, the Clogher pilgrims will take part in various liturgies, including the celebration of Mass each day, a torchlight procession on the esplanade in front of the world-famous basilica on Saturday evening, a Eucharistic Procession on Sunday, together with the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and other devotions. The Anointing of the Sick will be celebrated by the Clogher pilgrims on Tuesday next, 10 July.
This year’s pilgrimage will also place a special emphasis on the family, marking the forthcoming World Meeting of Families in Dublin this August. A special Family Mass will be celebrated in Saint Bernadette’s Church, near the shrine, on the morning of Monday 9 July.
Speaking ahead of the pilgrimage, Monsignor McGuinness said that the intentions of all the people of the diocese will be included the daily prayers of the pilgrims at the shrine and he has asked those at home to, in turn, accompany the pilgrims with their prayers.
Lourdes, a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees in southern France, rose to prominence in 1858 due to the Marian apparitions seen by the then fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous, who was later canonised. Today, Lourdes hosts around six million visitors every year from all corners of the world. 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.