Ampleforth Lourdes Pilgrimage 2017
In July (Friday 14th to Friday 21st), ten members of the Monastic Community took part in the annual Ampleforth Lourdes Pilgrimage: Frs Ambrose, Chad, Edward, Gabriel, Hugh, John, Luke, Oswald, Philip and Richard.
They were among several hundred people who took part in the Pilgrimage, including sixth formers from Ampleforth College and many friends of Ampleforth, plus students from Mayfield School, Portsmouth Abbey School and Sacred Heart School, Connecticut (Archdiocese of Hartford). Pilgrims were divided into groups of about twenty, each with two team leaders and a monk chaplain. Some were present as helpers, some as assisted pilgrims, others as doctors or nurses.
On the first evening, Fr Oswald celebrated Mass for the first pilgrims to arrive and the next day Fr John presided at the official opening Mass of the Pilgrimage. On Sunday, Mass was celebrated by the Bishop of Valladolid in the underground Basilica. Tuesday was an especially intense and rich day. Fr Gabriel celebrated a Mass of Anointing of the Sick in the mountains just outside Lourdes, which was a a very emotional occasion for both the Assisted Pilgrims and the helpers, particularly as the Anointing of the Sick was the special theme for reflection at this year's pilgrimage.
(Click here to read Fr Gabriel's homily at the Mass of Anointing.)
Similarly moving was the torchlight procession to the Grotto where Our Lady appeared to St Bernadette in 1858. A special highlight of the week was being allowed to stay in the Grotto after midnight to pray. The monks led the pilgrims in singing Compline just before 1am (see photo above) - "a truly blessed experience."
In addition, pilgrims could take part in any of two Blessed Sacrament processions in the underground Basilica. And although the various events and the care of the sick and disabled meant that the week was busy and tiring at times, there were also opportunities for quiet prayer and reflection. Each group had a half day of Recollection during which they could be still and absorb the spiritual atmosphere of the place. There were also opportunities to relax in the evenings and enjoy the entertainment put on by volunteers from among the helpers.
The Pilgrimage ended with a farewell Mass in the Basilica celebrated by Fr Ambrose.
Here is a small gallery of photographs taken during the 2017 Pilgrimage, plus a couple of others from years gone by... You can see many more photographs by clicking here.