When my mother Margaret was in Hammersmith Hospital in London she would often go to the chapel to pray. My mother was an Irish Catholic and her faith in God had always been there.
It was here that she first heard of the Pilgrimage to Lourdes in France where many sick people would go from all over the world.
My mother and many others from this hospital went to France to visit Lourdes. When they were here they went to the shrine where our lady had first appeared. It was to a young girl called Bernadette Soubirous who on 11th February 1858 had her first visitation from Our Lady Mary.
Bernadette had many visions 18 in total of Our lady and Our Lady would convey messages to her. She wanted Bernadette to tell the people of the town to build a grotto in her name and this grotto would be a place for the sick to come and pray and also to bathe in the water that had been blessed by god.
My Mother Margaret was always a very kind and caring lady. When she went to Lourdes she became friends with other people there. Although she was poorly herself she comforted and talked to others. She made them all laugh and told them all about her family and who we all were.
Lourdes is a place of hope and filled with love. Thousands upon thousands of people come here every year. There are masses said everyday. The people come with lighted candles and all sing the hymn “Ave Maria”
When you are here you can bathe in the water from the grotto and as you bathe prayers are said over you. People come for healing in a physical and mental way.
I have never been myself, but would like to. I can imagine that it would be an spiritual experience I would never forget.
Here is a picture of my mother with Cardinal Basil Hume. I never really thought about what a great honour it must of been for my mum to meet him. You think about the amount of people that go there. A very special and holy experience.
History of the Pilgrimage
The Pilgrimage was started following a private visit to Lourdes by Fr Martin Haigh, and the late Cardinal Basil Hume (then both Housemasters at Ampleforth). They saw the tremendous potential for both young and old, the sick and the healthy, and gathered a group of pilgrims for their first visit in 1953. The group consisted of 53 boys from the school with their parents and friends.
I am very proud of her going here without her family, despite her heatlh not being 100%. A very brave lady.
After she died my dad received a letter from a sister, who went to Lourdes with my mum. She told my dad what a wonderful lady my mum was, I know that it upset my dad to read it, but it just shows you that not matter what, we all make a mark in the world and touch peoples hearts, sometimes without us even knowing it.