Many cannot travel to the French shrine, known for healing powers, but through modern technology all can participate in special prayers.
Like churches and shrines around the world, the Sanctuary of Lourdes in France has reopened after months of being closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s only a partial reopening so far. The Sanctuary can only accommodate a very limited number of pilgrims, because of a strict health protocol. But it is preparing for its first e-pilgrimage for anyone in the world to participate.
The event, the “Lourdes United First World e-Pilgrimage,” will mark the anniversary of the 18th and last apparition of the Virgin Mary July 16. It will be a 15-hour long event broadcast directly from the Grotto of the Apparitions, including Mass, processions, rosaries, and prayers in 10 languages. Religious and civil figures will testify to the role that Lourdes plays in their lives.
Lourdes has long been known as a place of healing, and the worldwide broadcast is an opportunity to bring healing to a world that is in the throes of a health crisis and other troubles.
“This extraordinary day will bring together millions of people from all continents, through televisions, radios and social networks, under the sign of hope and solidarity,” said a press release from the organizers. “The cameras will go behind the scenes of this unique place to better explain its mission.”
Themes of solidarity, fraternity, commitment, help, hope and the search for meaning will be explored. Reports, archival videos, and live music will complement the program.
“The world is facing an unprecedented economic and social crisis, coupled with an unprecedented quest for meaning,” said the organizers. “The fraternity, generosity and hope that the Sanctuary has held for 162 years have never been so essential.”
Bishop Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, Rector of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, said that since France ordered a general lockdown March 17, the sanctuary has received more than 130,000 prayer requests from around the world. Lourdes’ priests, deacons and religious have been presenting them to Our Lady of Lourdes at the Grotto.