Once again the sun smiled on the pilgrims this morning as the day started at a leisurely pace with quiet time for prayer and visiting the baths and the Grotto. At 11.30 the pilgrims gathered for the Anointing of the Sick. Bishop Paul reflected on the sacrament and its meaning, how it touches the lives of those being anointed as well as being a profound moment for the priest who confers the anointing. It is a reminder that Christ walks with us always, shouldering our burden with us no matter how heavy it may be.
Right after Mass, Cardinal Vincent recorded his second video message of the pilgrimage, explaining the significance of the anointing and of reconciliation to the pilgrimage to Lourdes. Shortly after recording the message, he set off to Krakow to join the World Youth Day pilgrims.
Soon after, news of the murderous attack on the Church of Saint Etienne-du-Rouveray in Rouen was everywhere. The afternoon's Mass at Sacre-Coeur, the parish church of Lourdes, was offered for Fr Jacques Hamel, so brutally murdered in the assault, and the other victims. Bishop John Wilson, who was the principal celebrant, expressed the sadness that many were feeling.
During the homily he reflected on the sacrament of Baptism, on Bernadette's Baptism in this parish church, and our Baptism too. Through this sacrament, we become members of the Church, th Body of Christ. He explained that every single member of this Body is important and valued, no matter how big or how small, and that no part of this Body should ever deemed to be worthless.
After Mass, Bishop John recorded a further message, reinforcing the connection between the need for reconciliation and the mercy of God, in light of the attack earlier in the day.
In a further reflection of the sombre mood left by the atrocity in Rouen, Cardinal Vincent sent a letter of condolence to the Archbishop of Rouen Dominique Lebrun in which he expressed his horror and deep sadness.
In the evening, the pilgrims took part in the torchlight procession, which today was offered up for the Fr Jacques Hamel, the other victims and the people of Rouen, as well as the pilgrims of World Youth Day in Krakow. As always, it was a spectacular sight, as dusk began to fall and the light of the candles shone more brightly in the gloom as the pilgrims began to gather in the square.
More photos from the day can be found here.