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The last day of the pilgrimage has arrived! After the previous night of singing and dancing in the Eliseo, when we were led in a profound, affecting and hilarious performance of 'Rise and Shine, and give God the Glory, Glory' by Fr Chris Vipers, today was a moment of reflection before the long journey home as well as a time of rejoicing in the things the Lord has done. As Cardinal Vincent said in his homily for today's Mass, it was an opportunity to reflect on the gifts we have received in these days.

He invited everyone present to think on the question, 'what is the treasure you have received on this pilgrimage that you want to take home?' It could be either an act of kindness or inspiration, or it might be 'a moment of real irritation and frustration, that seems as if you're taking home a stone in your shoe. But that stone might well be gold if we ponder it hard enough.'

The treasure that Cardinal Vincent said he'd take home was the realisation that, while Bernadette saw a 'beautiful young woman' as she met Mary and discovered more over the eighteen apparitions, the real question is 'what did Mary see when Bernadette was in front of her in the Grotto?' This question has implications for how we live, as Cardinal Vincent asked himself, 'What does Mary see in each one of us as she looks at us, there in front of her? Surely she sees in us something of the same potential and goodness that she saw in Bernadette.'

When Bernadette grew old, she responded to the question as to what she could give now, she responded, 'I am good for nothing, only to pray and bear suffering.' This, Cardinal Vincent said, can be a way that we all might feel, but Mary sees in us 'something beloved of her Son, someone deeply loved by Jesus', which is one of the things we learn here in Lourdes: 'God loves that which is small ... God sees a humble heart'.

This was the last formal Mass of the pilgrimage, which was also an opportunity for those present to receive the Anointing of the Sick, which was administered to those who were suffering illness or infirmity. Peacefully, the priests moved throughout the congregation, administering the holy oils to the forehead and hands of those individuals who had requested it. This, Cardinal Vincent said, is an important act, as 'Jesus wants to be close to us in our suffering; he was surrounded by the sick.' The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, reminds us that 'borne with patience, every sickness is a step nearer to the Lord. May this anointing help us to stay on that road and journey day by day to him who is our Saviour, our Hope and our Joy.'

After Mass, Fr Denis announced the winners of the raffle, with first and second prize won by Fr Mark Walker and Cardinal Vincent Nichols respectively. After being assured that this was not the result of a fixed contest, the Diocesan Pilgrimage Candle was blessed and carried in procession to the place where it will stand, burning as a reminder both of the time we spent there, and in tribute to the blessings the Lord has given us while in Lourdes.

While this formally concluded the Pilgrimage, the Redcaps, facilitators and Youth Ministry team were joined by the Cardinal in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for their own time of reflection. Led by Beata, the young people who have spent the past week faithfully serving those pilgrims who needed assistance were able to bring their experience before God and see how he has worked through them. Reading the Gospel story of the Road to Emmaus, the young people recalled that Jesus walked alongside the disciples, unknown but illuminating for them the scriptures about his life and death, building them up in faith. In the same way, the young people had walked alongside individuals who were illuminating through their lives the message of the Gospel, which is one of self-giving love.

The Cardinal gave the young people a unique opportunity to informally ask him questions and also share their experiences and how they felt they had grown during the pilgrimage. While shy at first, the young people shared the joys and highlights of their time, but also some of their struggles. Cardinal Vincent was able to place these in the wider context of faith and the Church, drawing together and integrating their experiences. It was noticeable the impact that this had on the young people, as they stepped out of the basilica into the blazing sun laughing and chatting with each other. There was a strong sense of a solidarity through a shared experience.

Tomorrow, the journey home begins. As Cardinal Vincent said in his message for today, 'as we close with a quiet twenty-four hours, I hope you too can sit quietly with the Lord and thank him for the gifts we've received, I trust the gifts you've received, and will continue to receive in the days ahead.'

Keep up with photos, videos and stories from the pilgrimage by visiting our Lourdes Pilgrimage page or following us on social media.