The highlight of the Wednesday of pilgrimage week is theInternational Mass. With Cardinal Vincent having departed for Krakow to join the World Youth Day pilgrims, Cardinal Cormac presided at the Mass. While there may be reports of smaller pilgrim numbers in Lourdes, the full Pius X (underground basilica) told a very different story.
Pilgrims from many different nationalities gathered together to pray in several languages. Cardinal Cormac began the Mass by asking for prayers for Fr Jacques Hamel, who was brutally murdered the day before in the terrorist attack on his church in Rouen, and for peace throughout the world. In his homily, which he delivered in English, French and Italian, he preached on the theme of 'the Lord is compassion and love', reminding us that we must seek always the Lord's mercy. At the closing of the Mass, he thanked the pilgrims and asked them to pray for him.
In a video message which he recorded later in the day, Cardinal Cormac picked up once again this same theme, reflecting on the compassion and love that is exemplified in different ways in Lourdes: primarily in those who bear their illness with great patience and prayer, the pilgrims and nurses who come to refresh their spiritual lives, the young people who are growing in faith and who see how the Catholic faith brings such joy, and all the priests who come as gentle pastors leading their people into a deeper understanding of the Gospel. He explained that Lourdes is a model of the Church and of the diocese in miniature.
For the rest of the day, pilgrims had unstructured time to allow them to visit the baths and the grotto, to pray and to make their individual devotions at a gentle pace, ahead of another busy day on Thursday.
Additional photos from today's Mass can be found here.