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Monday, September 25, 2023

Lourdes, France

Aloha Everyone,

One of the interesting topics we discussed with J.J.’s cousins, Cory & Moira are their personal experiences with volunteering at Lourdes.

Lourdes, located in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains, is a town in southwestern France. The Sanctuaries Notre-Dame de Lourdes is one of three major Catholic pilgrimage sites. Millions of visitors come from around the world to visit the Grotto of Apparitions where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a young servant girl, Bernadette Soubirous. Since the historical date of February 11, 1858 religious visitors to Lourdes come to procure holy water.

Prior to pandemic days, the grotto was opened to visitors and volunteers would assist pilgrims to drink or bathe in the flowing spring water. Today, the grotto is closed to visitors and one can no longer bathe in the spring, but pilgrims are permitted to procure water to take home and in lieu of bathing, volunteers would give them a container of holy water which they could sprinkle on themselves.

Today about 7 to 9 of J.J.’s relatives are back at Lourdes for a period of two weeks. Thereafter, the group is touring Spain and Portugal then to Rome, Italy. Volunteers must pay for their own transportation, accommodation and food but those who have participated say that it is a great honor to volunteer as a Catholic and truly an amazing experience.

Aloha -- Cathi