Cardinal Vincent's message for pilgrims first appeared in the booklet for the diocesan Lourdes pilgrimage 2023.
Once again we have come as a diocese in pilgrimage to this holy place, a place where we know that Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother, appeared in 1858 to a young girl, Bernadette Soubirous. Mary’s message to her was simple: ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’, but these words are profound. By being immaculately conceived, Mary became the means by which God’s Son, Jesus Christ, could enter our world as both God and man.
This year’s Lourdes theme is ‘Go and tell the priests to build a chapel here.’ Since Bernadette received those words from Our Lady, millions of people have come here. Thousands of Masses and prayers have been offered in chapels, in churches, in basilcas, in the Grotto at all hours of the day and night: all seeking Mary’s help in providing an answer from God.
And answers there have been. Some may have been in the form of miraculous cures, others in graces received, in finding a vocation, in problems solved or peace found. The amount of good, love and care that has been shown here, year after year, cannot be underestimated. Truly, here in Lourdes, the Body of Christ is made a lived reality, bringing something of the joy of heaven to earth.
I thank you all for coming and sharing in these days together, no matter what your role is or why you have come. May we all show in the best possible way the love and care that Mary shows to us. May we all find our faith strengthened, our prayers answered and our love for each other made stronger.
✠ Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster