2014-02-11 15:14:59

Pilgrimage to Lourdes: a place of great spirituality and joy

(Vatican Radio) The Church’s World Day of Sick on February 11th is celebrated on the anniversary of the date of the first apparition of Our Lady to St. Bernadette in a cave just outside Lourdes. The French town has since become one of the major pilgrimage destinations in the world with millions of sick and disabled people travelling there each year.

But what is the lure of Lourdes that makes people return to this Marian shrine year after year?
That was the question Susy Hodges put to Philip Sparke, Chief Executive of the HCPT pilgrimage trust, a Catholic charity that takes thousands of adults and children to Lourdes each year.

Listen to the extended interview with Philip Sparke who was speaking from Lourdes: RealAudioMP3

Sparke says that for him the great attraction of Lourdes is twofold: "it's a place where people come and detect a great degree of spirituality" as well as " a place of great joy, where people can have fun."

He explains that their "pilgrimage is based on giving" but he and the other volunteers who take the sick and disabled people to Lourdes "get back love, smiles and recognition" from those they accompany on these pilgrimages to the shrine.

Sparke also describes the first time he went to Lourdes and how after a couple of days he became "completely seized by the experience" and realised he would always want to return there over and over again.

All the contents on this site are copyrighted ©.