When I learned that I was going to Toulouse and told my sisters about it, they immediately pushed me to visit Lourdes. They went there about 2 years back with a group from our parish. They said since I will be in the region, it’s a must for me to go.
Planning the trip was challenging, but in the end, everything was worth it!
Lourdes reminds me a bit of Salzburg. They have friendly people, scenic spots and they give off a vibe of safety even if there are a lot of tourists. It has a laidback charm of small villages where the happening things happen at the town center. In Lourdes’ case, everything and everybody congregates at the Basilica.
My first stop was the Basilica, took everything in while standing at the garden facing the town.
Then I immediately headed to the Grotto of the Lady. There’s quite a crowd as the procession was about to start, but it was still quiet. Holy silence, if I can call it that. When I got to the Grotto, there are pews available and there’s a short line for those who want to touch the rock formation.
I got in line and was able to take a photo of the stream where the miraculous Holy Water comes from. Not sure if taking photos is allowed but took my chance, and nobody reprimanded me anyway. There was also a dropbox near the rock formation where you can drop off your letters. Actually there were a couple of dropboxes all over but decided to drop off mine (and my colleague’s) in the Grotto.
The night procession promptly started at 2100H. Since it was late spring/ early summer when I visited, the sun’s just about to set and it wasn’t dark yet. The rosary was recited while there’s a steady stream of people from all over the world, praying in different languages.
It ended after an hour, which gave me a chance to walk around the compound a bit more. I crossed the bridge to the other side of the Basilica, where most of the youth pilgrims are staying. There are gazebos around which I guess were used for prayer and reflection.
I returned to the hotel close to midnight. I stayed in this modern hotel – Hotel Eliseo just 2 minutes away from the Basilica. It’s one of the nicest hotels, and the rate I got from booking.com was a steal. The personnel were all friendly and helpful. When they learned that I was traveling alone, they made me feel comfortable.
I was up early the next day. It was still dark outside but I braved it and went looking for St. Bernadette’s house. After a few missteps, I finally found it! This is where she was born and raised. I can’t believe that not much had changed. It still has the arching road. It was still closed when I got there so didn’t get the chance to see the inside.
After that I went back to the Basilica compound for the Way of the Cross. It was a steep climb and a bit scary too, as I was the only one climbing that time. It was already at the last station when I saw two nuns praying. I guess I kind of scared them too 🙂
After that, I ran to the crypt where a mass is being held. That gave me goosebumps as I saw the relic of St. Bernadette. Most of the churchgoers were elderly. I think I was the only one a bit young so everyone smiled at me.
Then I went to Sacre Couer. I realized I should have gone here straight from St. Bernadette’s house. Anyway, it’s smaller than the one in Paris but still as sacred and peaceful. I wish I could have stayed longer since it’s really a calming place. This is where St. Bernadette was baptized.
I was only in Lourdes for less than 24 hours, probably just a bit over than 12 hours. But the impact of what I saw and what I feel can last a lifetime. I would forever cherish the moments I was walking in the Basilica for the procession. I will forever hold in my heart the feeling when I first saw the Lady perched on the rock. Those I would not trade for anything. My trip was definitely well worth it
Filed under: Travel