Day 148: Orthez to Lourdes - Tues 30 Sept, 2014
An hour and a couple of tolls down the road, came to edge of Pyrenees once again in pretty Lourdes.
Overcast all day, made it more pleasant to walk to town once settled in Camp de Loup against mountain. Walked past Petit Couvert, and Grand Couvert of Immaculate Conception (where a woman was pushing a baby in pram - hmmm...) and on to Sanctuaire Notre Dame de Lourdes, the religious precinct.
|Grand Couvert of Immaculate Conception|
|Le Chateau Fort|
|Basilica of Immaculate Conception|
Went into Basilica of Immaculate Conception, homage to Mary in abundance. In chapel holding Saint Bernadette's reliquary/bone (little shepherdess of Barthes), lit votive candle for each of our grandbabies due this year and their mothers. Walls were covered in plaques from people seeking or thanking personal miracles. Went quietly into La Crypte, as an African priest was delivering a homily. Outside again on mid level, was a massive gilt crown on cupola (just HAD to get photo of “Queen Ann” underneath!!).
|Saint Bernadette's chapel|
Descended one of the sweeping flanking staircases, to the Basilica du Rosaire underneath – the crypts along the sides were spectacular in tiles and gilt. Inside had beautiful frescoes and a calm, meditative ambiance.
|Basilica du Rosaire|
Finally walked along to the Grotto and joined procession of people walking through touching the worn rocks and blessing themselves with seeping water. Huge candles left burning along external corridor by pilgrims. Bought bottle and filled with holy water from Lourdes spring, but declined to join the group disrobing totally for their full immersion experience.
|Mary McKillop, St Mary of the Cross|
Took High Stations road back to camping ground to do a load of washing, strewing damp items around to begin laborious drying process…. Walked back into town via the Low Stations road along riverbank past St Margaret’s statue, in time for dinner at hotel (fatty lamb and garlic beans). Joined fabled torchlight "Procession Mariale" commencing at 9pm. Massive numbers of people with candle lanterns lined up in the dark, shuffling up one side of long avenue and back, following Madonna in glass case borne aloft by (real) nuns, everyone chanting 5 Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary in many different languages, and singing Ave Maria, holding lanterns high during rousing chorus. Crowd received a universal blessing before dispersing. A very special and moving experience.