I hardly seems possible but we're halfway through our pilgrimage today.   Archbishop Vincent is leaving us to return to London in time for the opening of the Olympic games.   We're sorry to see him go but we're left in the very capable hands of Bishop John Sherrington.

This morning the main Mass was the international Mass in the Pius X (underground) Basilica.   This event is huge.   The underground basilica can hold about 25,000 and it's a very popular Mass here in Lourdes.   I wasn't there, though.   I went to a much smaller liturgy in Saint Joseph's Chapel on the other side of the sanctuary.   Father Richard Nesbitt was the main celebrant and as he is also the Reds' chaplain many of them were present.   For those of you who don't know, the Reds, are the junior members of the Hospitalité.   They're under sixteen and therefore too young to join the Redcaps or the hospital helpers team.   We had a lovely, intimate Mass and afterwards the Reds gathered for a photograph.

Since we're halfway through the pilgrimage now and Wednesday tends to be a bit of a quiet day with the opportunity for people to do their own thing or take an excursion somewhere in the afternoon.   I think this is a good moment to look again at the theme of the year, 'Praying the Rosary with Bernadette.'   The service on Monday night was very helpful.   The stories of how individual people have been helped by praying the rosary was very enlightening to me.   We can so easily gabble through the decades without paying too much attention but, really, the prayer is an invitation to become deeply immersed in God and  to develop a strong relationship with the Blessed Virgin.   And the significance of the life of Jesus and His death and ressurrection becomes more and more real and alive for us as we persevere in the prayer. 

Here in Lourdes, one of the things the authorities have done is to plant five 'rosary trees' in the sanctuary and they are festooned with all sorts of rosaries.    The beads of some of them are absolutely huge.   They make a very attractive sight.

Our permanence is open for business as usual and this year one of the most popular items is the new Westminster Polo shirt with the pilgrimage logo uniting us to the Hospitalité at Lourdes.   You might remember that we're still fairly new members of this organisation.

Suddenly a lot of these shirts are being seen around the town.