Among those taking part in this year's annual Catholic Association Pilgrimage to Lourdes were two chaps from our Pastoral Area, and also our new Bishop. He stayed with us the whole week, travelling to and from Lourdes in the same carriage as everyone else, and enjoying his meals with us.
Although a great deal of clearing up has been done, some of the damage caused by the recent floods is still evident. The bridge nearest the Rosary Square suffered so badly from the battering by trees and rocks brought down the River Gave that a temporary structure has had to be erected to enable pilgrims to cross.
The pilgrims have not been discouraged, however, and there were the usual crowds at the grotto, especially when Mass was being offered there.
One evening our group avoided the crush, and gathered for night prayers and reflection on the opposite bank, looking across at the candlelit grotto. In this photo the upright white triangle near the top left is the pyramid of candles, and the small statue placed where Our Lady appeared can be seen slightly to the right and above it.
The highlight of the closing days was the anointing of assisted pilgrims, of whom this year there was a record number. Despite this Bishop Philip and his colleagues took time and care with each of them.
The Portsmouth group finished their week with a party on the roof of the seven-story Mercure Hotel. Quite a number of our young helpers were able to join us to toast our new bishop and thank Fr John and his team for a very memorable week.