Order of Malta

The Annual Lourdes Pilgrimage

“I am the Immaculate Conception”
March 25, 1858

Each May, Knights, Dames, Auxiliary, and volunteers from the Order of Malta travel to Lourdes, France as pilgrims, bringing with them sick and disabled from around the world. The Lourdes pilgrimage offers a unique opportunity to fully experience the charism of our Order, service to the sick and the poor, while joining together with members of the Order from across the globe in an international community of service and faith. In 2016, over 7,000 members and volunteers from the Order of Malta, including 1,500 sick (“Malades”) came to Lourdes from 44 countries.

Participating in the pilgrimage is an opportunity to learn firsthand what belonging to the Order of Malta really means – devotion, service, and fellowship. Linked as it is with hands-on service, the pilgrimage offers unique spiritual gifts to all. Knights, Dames, Auxiliary members and volunteers are assigned to small teams (“pods”), assisting a Malade each day from early morning into the evening on the weeklong pilgrimage. The schedule is full, but rewarding, and there is time for personal reflection and relaxation for all.

The History of Lourdes

In 1858, in a cave, named Massabielle, situated just outside the Village of Lourdes in the Pyrénées of southern France, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on eighteen occasions to Bernadette Soubirous, a very poor, 14-year-old girl. The first of the apparitions took place on February 11th and the last on July 16th.

“I saw a lady dressed in white, she wore a white dress, an equally white veil, a blue belt, and a yellow rose on each foot.” – Bernadette describes the first apparition of February 11, 1858

The lady – wearing a white dress with a blue sash and with gold roses at her feet -asked that a chapel be built on the site of the vision and told Bernadette to drink of the natural fountain in the Grotto. “Go, drink of the waters and wash yourself there.” Though no fountain was to be seen, when Bernadette dug at a spot designated by the apparition a spring began to flow.

A typical pod – Lourdes Pilgrimage 2017

Through God’s love and power, the water from this still-flowing spring has shown remarkable healing power, though it contains no curative property that science can identify. Since Bernadette’s apparitions in 1858, the Church has officially recognized 69 miracles—the last of which occurred in 1989. The International Medical Committee of Lourdes, a group of about 20 physicians, has certified another 2,000 inexplicable cures.

Following Bernadette’s death in 1879, she was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1933 by Pope Pius XI.

Lourdes remains one of the world’s most popular pilgrimage sites, especially among the sick. While physical cures are relatively rare, many people, both Malades and pilgrims, experience interior miracles—people who are ill, even dying, who are able to leave Lourdes with an inner peace they did not before experience: “Anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never thirst again: the water that I shall give will turn into a spring within them, welling up to eternal life.”- John 4:14

Candlelight processions occur nightly
Lourdes Pilgrimage 2017

Previous Pilgrimages

The American Association has participated in the annual Lourdes Pilgrimage since 1986.

We include photo galleries of previous Lourdes Pilgrimages for your enjoyment.

2017 Photo Gallery

2016 Photo Gallery

2015 Photo Gallery

Previous Pilgrimages

Order of Malta, American Association, U.S.A.

American Association, U.S.A
1011 First Avenue, Room 1350
New York, NY 10022
(212) 371-1522