Today marked the close of the pilgrimage. We began the day with Mass at the Grotto. As with most things in life, while there were endings for some, there were beginnings for others. We joined with the pilgrims of the Diocese of Shrewsbury who were beginning their pilgrimage just as we were ending ours. Bishop John Sherrington was the principal celebrant of the Mass. As with all Masses from the Grotto, this one was streamed live on Lourdes TV, who were kind enough to record the Mass for us. If you missed it when it was televised live, you can watch it here:
The combined choir of both dioceses was ably led by Giovanni Marseglia and Liz Simpson, with the music adding to the beauty of the celebration. As it was a very sunny day, the umbrellas were out and the Red Caps were at the ready to give water to anyone who was in need of refreshment.
After Mass, the diocesan candle was blessed, along with candles from the Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden and St Michael's High School, Garston. All three were lit and left as a sign of our continued prayer which we leave behind in Lourdes for ourselves and for our loved ones, both living and deceased.
At the end of Mass, Bishop John had reflected on the pilgrimage and the abundant blessings and graces it provided for us. He encouraged us to pray the Magnificat with Mary, 'Holy is his name!'. You can watch as he explains the significance of the role Mary, our Mother, plays in our lives and in the life of the Church:
Fr Andrew Gallagher, the Deputy Pilgrimage Director, in his announcements at the end of Mass, reassured us that we are all one family, and invited the pilgrims to attend the reunion Masses and the Mass in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes in February. He encouraged us to begin planning and preparing for next year's pilgrimage.
In the afternoon, some pilgrims prayed the Stations of the Cross. Some went to the upper stations, whilst others followed the lower stations on the plain.
Already some pilgrims had begun to journey back to the UK, and other pilgrims made farewell visits to the Grotto and looked for lastminute souvenirs to take with them. Tomorrow the remaining pilgrims journey home, as this year's pilgrimage concludes.
We hope you can join us next year in person.
Photos from the last day and the entire week can be found here.