Day 1 – Arrive Lourdes
Check in at Dublin airport for our Aer Lingus flight to Toulouse airport. Following our arrival at Toulouse airport, we will make our way to the baggage claim area and collect our luggage. We will proceed to the arrival’s hall, where our guide will be waiting to bring you to your coach for you transfer to Lourdes. On arrival in Lourdes, we will check-in to the Hotel Astrid and relax before dinner, which is usually served around 7pm, After dinner, we can take a short walk down to the Sanctuary to observe the candlelight procession and to pray the Rosary.
The candlelight procession begins at 9pm each evening and is a very special part of our pilgrimage where all nations from around the world come together to unite in prayer. On the 18th February 1858, the day of the third Apparition, one of the two people accompanying Bernadette came carrying a candle. After this, Bernadette herself always came with a lit candle. It marks the beginning of this long historical event in Lourdes. During the Procession, and depending on the day, pilgrims recite one of the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful or Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. At the beginning of each decade, a few words in several languages are given to direct prayer so that it does not become a monotonous repetition. The Ave Maria and other hymns can be heard in many languages. In the serenity of the evening, each pilgrim carries his or her own personal intentions as the prayer gathers the assembly “of all nations, people and languages” with the Virgin Mary. At the end of an evening procession on the 14th August 1983, Pope John Paul II said, “In this peaceful night we keep watch, we pray, no longer in the secret of our hearts, but as a great crowd on the move, following the risen Jesus Christ, each one lighting the way for the other”.
Day 2 – Walking Tour
This morning after breakfast we will depart as a group and make our way to celebrate our first Mass of the pilgrimage. Over the next few days all our intentions, the intentions we carry from friends and family will be offered up at each Mass. Following Mass, we will make our way to the sanctuary area where we will have a detailed orientation tour and Our guide will explain where and why the Rosary Basilica was built and introduce us to the confessional chapel and the baths area. We will return to the hotel for Lunch which is usually served at 12 noon. After lunch we generally meet with our guide at our hotel to embark on the walking tour which follows in the footsteps of St Bernadette. We begin at the cemetery where her parents are buried and walk back in time to visit the Boly Mill, the birthplace of St. Bernadette and the “Cachot” an abandoned prison where she and her impoverish family lived. During the walking tour we will hopefully get the sense of how the apparitions had such an impact on the family and this small village of Lourdes. After our walk we can take some free time to go back to the sanctuary area for some time of personal prayer before attending the blessing of the sick. After dinner we will take part in the evening programme as per the Sanctuary schedule which is optional for those who wish to attend the Rosary and the candlelight procession, beginning at 9pm.
Blessed Sacrament Procession
Each day at 5pm we will have an opportunity as pilgrims to walk with the Blessed Sacrament. The Blessed Sacrament reminds us all that Jesus is truly walking among us and that Our Lady is always drawing us back to her Son. The Procession starts in the Prairie of the Sanctuary and finishes in the Basilica of Saint Pius X in time for Adoration and Blessing of all Pilgrims. This is an optional part of the programme, and will generally not be accompanied by the guide.
Day 3 – Baths & Bartres
After a restful night’s sleep, we leave the hotel as a group and visit the baths.After lunch there is an optional trip to Bartres (approximately €15 per person return for the coach trip). Bernadette held a special place for Bartres in her heart as it was where she stayed and studied the Catechism to prepare to receive her first Holy Communion. As a group we will celebrate Holy Mass in the chapel where Bernadette prayed. We shall return to our hotel for dinner at 7pm. After dinner this evening we again have an opportunity to take part in the evening programme as per the Sanctuary schedule.
The baths are a major highlight in Lourdes. Don’t worry about feeling nervous. This is a very relaxing and stress-free time. It’s a time to bring our intentions and needs to Our Lady and her Son. The baths are, for many, a place of physical and spiritual healing and a conversion of heart. (The baths may be very busy depending on the day or time and we may need to return on an alternative day. Our guide will advise the group of this.)
Day 4 – Grotto & Stations of the Cross
We will begin today at the most sacred site at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, the grotto where Our Lady first appeared to Bernadette in 1858. During our time at the Grotto we can walk in and around the Grotto area placing our hands on the grotto walls where the original spring is still visible. There is also an intentions box situated within the Grotto area where we can leave our intentions. Attend Mass in the Lower Dolores. After lunch we will meet up as a group at St. Joseph's Gate with our guide and participate in the High or Low stations of the cross. The high stations are life size figures which re-enact the passion of Christ. They are located at the top of the Rosary basilica hill and will take approximately 1.5hr to complete. The low stations are located across from the baths area and have been designed to facilitate anybody who may have any walking difficulties. Both the high and low stations are an opportunity to experience Christ’s unconditional love for us all as we pray together on the passion through Our Lady’s eyes. After dinner we again have an opportunity to take part in the evening programme as per the Sanctuary schedule.
It was here while gathering wood that Our Lady first appeared to Bernadette in 1858. During the first two apparitions, little Bernadette prayed the Rosary with Our Lady and left without any exchange of words. During one of Our Lady’s visits to Bernadette, She announced herself saying “I am the Immaculate Conception”. Throughout the following apparitions, Our Lady emphasised God's love for us, penance and the necessity of performing acts of penance for sinners.
Day 5 - Depart Lourdes
After our Farewell Mass as a group, there will be a chance for some last-minute shopping or personal prayer before transferring by our luxury coach to Toulouse airport for your return flight home.