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FAITH > Lourdes pilgrimage
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Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes Minimize

Our Lourdes Pilgrimage is one of the major events in our Diocesan calendar, and took place in 2018 between 24th-31st August .


This year the dates were 23rd - 30th August 2019

There are some excellent photos of this year's pilgrimage on the Clifton Diocese website, including some of Bishop Peter and a video of his homily on Day 3, Monday 26th August. 

The 2017 pilgrimage took place on 18th-25th August.  The first three photos below, showing Bishop Peter next to Bishop Declan of Clifton, and our banner in procession, are from the Clifton Diocese website, used with their permission, as they and other Dioceses are also part of the August Catholic Association pilgrimage. The last was sent in by one of our pilgrims, Marguerite Cook who writes:-

"I would like to say a big thank-you for a wonderful Lourdes pilgrimage under the leadership of Bishop Peter and Deacon Michael Fleming. Lourdes is a lovely place in the South-West of France, where in 1858 Our Lady appeared to Saint Bernadette Soubirous. Our Lady chose the beautiful setting of the Pyrenees Mountains to appear to Saint Bernadette.

I am always impressed by the help, love and care given to the assisted pilgrims, whether they are staying at a hotel or in the Accueil. Pope St. John Paul II, when he was very ill in 2004 stayed at the Accueil, and he was able to watch the Torchlight Procession from the panoramic rooftop terrace of the Accueil."


Anyone from our Diocese who is there at the moment, please send in your best pictures - and your stories of the pilgrimage !  



The 2016 pilgrimage was on 19th to 26th August.  For Neil Roseman's photos from the event, click here.  (If this doesn't work, you may need to log in to Facebook.) Below are a few of them.   


Large pilgrim party in front of Basilica  Four Nurses in blue uniforms with Diocesan banner  Bishop Peter prays for healing for a lady in the pews

Here's what the 2016 Vine report had to say:

"Once again this year we were accompanied on the Northampton Pilgrimage to Lourdes by a group of young helpers from Milton Keynes. These young people are mainly from St Augustine’s and Our Lady of Lourdes parishes. Parishioners are great supporters of the pilgrimage which has enabled these young people to take part as Brancardiers and Handmaids, many of whom have been helpers for a number of years on the pilgrimage. 

Our Young Helpers enable our Assisted Pilgrims to have a week away at the Shrine in Lourdes enjoying the grace, peace and joy that this brings. 

Lourdes helps us all, whether Assisted Pilgrims or Helpers to deepen our faith, meet people we wouldn’t usually meet and care for those who need our help. It is a place of great joy.

This year we were fortunate to have very good weather which enabled all to take part in a packed programme which included a daily pilgrimage Mass, the Blessed Sacrament and Torchlight Processions, visits to the Baths and a day at the Lac de Lourdes. There is time too for the cafes and visiting other parts of the town. The Pilgrimage also had the opportunity to process through the Holy Door of Mercy of the Sanctuary of Lourdes."

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Check the Catholic Association website for further information (indeed, a prodigious amount of information ! - webmaster) about how the Pilgrimage is organised, events that typically take place on pilgrimage, some of our policy documents, and a downloadable brochure produced by Tangney Tours, as well as material from their archives and photo galleries.

For booking forms, printed brochures and further information contact the Director of the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes, contact Rev. Deacon Michael Fleming, c/o St Gregory's, 22 Park Avenue North, Northampton NN3 2HS - e-mail mvf@btinternet.com  . The previous long-term Director, Fr Damien Walne, of Great Billing, sadly passed away on 7th March 2015. May he rest in peace .

The Pilgrimage Director is assisted by a small committee of Lourdes volunteers from Northampton Diocese. The Secretary is Mr Michael Carter from High Wycombe and he is joined by Matt Betts (Chief Brancardier of the CA), Terri Betts, Steve Gill, and Paul and Cliona Devereaux. They can all be contacted at Northampton@Catholicassociation.co.uk

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(General information below from Matt Betts, Chief Brancardier) The Pilgrimage to Lourdes is one of the very few opportunities to meet and pray as a diocese. Pilgrims, of course, come for their very own personal reasons; some to petition the intercession of Our Blessed Mother with her Son, for a particular request, others to say ‘thank you’ for blessings already received, some out of curiosity, some to re-kindle a faith that was lost and many too, who value a return visit to deepen their faith.   

Particularly welcome are our sick or disabled pilgrims, and we hope that visiting the shrine will help them bear the burden of their sufferings. The facilities for our ‘assisted pilgrims’ are first class. There are two state-of-the-art hospitals, appropriately called ‘Accueils’ –‘Houses of Welcome’ and a dedicated team of volunteer doctors, nurses, brancardiers and handmaids, as well as chaplains to assist them.   

Many of these are members of the Catholic Association Hospitalité, under whose auspices we travel as a pilgrimage group and they have made a commitment to serve fellow pilgrims in Lourdes on a regular basis.**   Bishop Peter is the Patron for the Hospitalité . Members of the Hospitalité epitomise the love that the presence of Our Lady inspires at Lourdes.  It is a hallowed place where people from all countries and continents are united as children of God and a magnet which draws the young and old, the infirm as well as the strong. In short, all human life comes here and indeed, it is a quiet corner in the Pyrenees where prayers can be said, hopes expressed and life accepted as it is.    

The diocese has travelled to Lourdes since 1925 when Bishop Cary-Elwes established the first Diocesan Pilgrimage.  It has continued to this day as bishops and people alike recognise it as a great blessing for the diocese. We are very proud of our Pilgrimage to Lourdes and we would like to thank our Pilgrimage Directors and Bishop Peter for a succession of really wonderful weeks.


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Volunteer Helpers

At the heart of our Pilgrimage are the assisted pilgrims (or APs) who need care or assistance. Men and women of all ages and backgrounds come to Lourdes as volunteer helpers to answer Mary’s request for people to ‘come in procession’, but more importantly they come in response to the command of her son Jesus to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves (Gospel of Mark 12:29-31). These volunteer helpers, who are pilgrims themselves, strive to encounter Jesus in each pilgrim, caring for their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Northampton Diocese are looking for volunteer helpers, which includes doctors, nurses, and non medical helpers: brancardiers (male) and handmaids (female).

In addition, if you are aged 17-25, you can be a part of the Young Helpers’ Group, (a supervised group staying in a separate hotel) please let us know by emailing(young_helpers@catholicassociation.co.uk). If you are interested in volunteering for the Diocesan Pilgrimage, please email us at northampton@catholicassociation.co.uk .

Volunteer helper forms are now available for (non-medical) male/female helpers here: http://www.catholicassociation.co.uk/pilgrimage/pilg2016.shtml 


Assisted Pilgrims

If accompanied by a relative, spouse, friend or carer, you may choose to stay in a hotel in Lourdes and receive basic support from volunteer helpers. This usually takes the form of wheelchair assistance moving about the town and to services. Otherwise, many of our APs stay in the Accueil, a residential facility where APs receive full-time care from volunteer helpers who work in teams.

For more information contact: northampton@catholicassociation.co.uk

Copyright 2019 by the Catholic Diocese of Northampton, Registered Charity No. 234091