This year the Oxford and Cambridge Lourdes pilgrimage was a diverse and vibrant group of stagiaires ranging from first year volunteers to veterans of over 50 years. As first years, our first day was spent together in formation, learning about the history and message of Lourdes.
We heard about the apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette, whose own prayerful humility we were inspired to imitate during our week of service through an engaging program of presentations, discussion and prayer. Following formation, the women went to work for the week either in the baths (piscines), helping to dress, undress and bathe the sick pilgrims (at Our Lady’s own behest to Bernadette), or, alternatively, to take care of them at their accommodation in the Accueil St. Frai.
The men, on the other hand, spent the week keeping order during the Eucharistic and Rosary processions, helping the sick pilgrims board and leave their trains, as well as working in the baths. We also had daily Mass with our Jesuit chaplain Fr. Nick King, and enough free time to make the most of the wonderful opportunities offered by Lourdes to deepen prayer, not least in the cool serenity of the adoration chapel and the enchanting holiness of the grotto itself. For me personally, the highlight of the week was working in the baths, where, bathing the physically and spiritually sick, we intimately shared in a moment of hope and spiritual renewal which, for many of the pilgrims, was a once in a lifetime experience.
So, if you desire to deepen your faith, join us for the annual Oxford-Cambridge Lourdes pilgrimage and find yourself in prayer and service filled with life, shining through those in whom the world sees no hope, by the love of Christ.
Lewis Scarpellino, St Anne’s