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. The year 2023 marks the 65th anniversary of the Order of Malta’s first pilgrimage to Lourdes and the 165th anniversary of the apparitions.
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, known as pods, assisting a Malade each day from early morning into the evening on the week-long pilgrimage. The schedule is full, but rewarding, and there is time for personal reflection and relaxation for all.
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.
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.
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 70 miracles—the last of which occurred in 2008. 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
2021 Lourdes Spiritual Pilgrimage
2020 Lourdes Spiritual Pilgrimage
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