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Ampleforth Lourdes Pilgrimage

2022 Highlights

The journey back to Lourdes felt like a long one: 3 years of hoping, making and then abandoning plans, joining and praying together virtually, waiting and finally preparation. We arrived in a Lourdes that was the same in many ways, but within a world that has changed. We were a smaller pilgrimage than before, and felt keenly the absence and loss of some pilgrimage members. However, Lourdes 2022 was a joyful experience for all of us who made the journey together.

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Special Moments

There were many special moments this year. The Geste de l’eau, a simple ceremony of washing one’s face and hands in the waters of the Spring  accompanied by prayer, has for now replaced the traditional method of taking the baths. Men and women are no longer separated and it was moving to see a family group and an elderly pilgrimage couple enter together, in a way that would not have been possible before. Our own Grotto mass, in the heart of the place which Fr Henry described as the most Christian in the world, was the perfect mid-week reaffirmation of our purpose and place in Lourdes. We had the uplifting and refreshing experience of being led in music and prayer by younger members of our pilgrimage at Evening prayer. And the silvery echoes of the Chilean guitarrón filling the domain during the Torchlight procession were an intensely beautiful moment in which to reflect.

-  Caroline Joy, Pilgrimage Chair


"Those of us who take our annual pilgrimage to Lourdes know how deeply it impacts and changes us. What I have come to realize over this week was that our pilgrimage is exactly what was missing from me over the past few years. They have been lonely and difficult for me; I have carried many crosses throughout this time completely alone. It’s easy to forget who you are in the face of trying times. During our week together we see one another in a pure way, where we have all chosen to continually say yes to every call — Never in my life have I witnessed people say yes to every call that comes their way, just as Bernadette did. Upon reflection of our week together I have a sense of self that was long missing; I am someone who says yes and have a community of remarkable people who do the same. I have not felt so peaceful, spiritually renewed, or hopeful in the past years as I have since departing Lourdes. It is in service that we find ourselves, that we find healing."

- Sydney, Young Helper & Group Leader

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Thank you

Although for those of us who were organising it felt, in many ways, that we were starting from scratch, because we were looking at how we did everything with eyes informed by the pandemic nonetheless the programme looked much the same and Caroline has talked about the particular joys of our 2022 Pilgrimage. However our final day was far from normal as the Tour de France began at 1pm from the Domaine and several of our Assisted Pilgrims and helpers were invited to watch all the preparations, from right beside the start line. Some of us were able to watch from the St Frai balconies as the cyclists sped right past the Acueill. For others there was always the option of escaping to the Ste Rose garden or the St Frai roof.


Last autumn Fr Richard generously accepted Fr Abbot’s request that he take over the role of Spiritual Adviser for one year. He joined the committee wholeheartedly, bringing his long experience of the Pilgrimage as a a former Pilgrimage Director and as a chaplain. He was able to join all our meetings, whether they were face to face or on Zoom and supported us all with great kindness and patience as we navigated our way towards both an actual Pilgrimage in Lourdes and a virtual pilgrimage, including organising the series of talks at Ampleforth. He worked hard to bring a team of 9 chaplains to Lourdes. I am so grateful to him for all his help and experience over this last year.


As the Mass of Anointing was ending Caroline and I were able to announce that Abbot Robert had asked Fr Oswald to take over as Spiritual Adviser from the end of our 2022 Pilgrimage. We are all looking forward to working with him as we journey towards our 2023 pilgrimage.


- Diana Williams, Pilgrimage Director 

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