Please note the following changes for the last days of the 2017 pilgrimage season: from Thursday 26st October to Sunday 5th November 9.00pm- torchlight Rosary at the Grotto (no procession)
Come and sing the Ave Maria of Lourdes every evening at 9.00pm with believers from all over the world. This is one of the most popular events in Lourdes.
Don’t miss the evening Torchlight Procession. As early as 18th February 1858, the day of the third Apparition, one of the two people accompanying Bernadette had carried a candle. After this, Bernadette herself always came with a candle. The iconic Lourdes Torchlight Procession, known throughout the world, was introduced in Lourdes in 1863 by Father Marie-Antoine, a Capuchin also known as the ‘Saint of Toulouse’. The Marian Procession is the most popular celebration in Lourdes. Pilgrims come with their banners and sick pilgrims are always anxious to attend when they can.
You can carry a candle with its paper wind protector on which the traditional Ave Maria of Lourdes is printed recalling the story of the Apparitions.
Did you know? The Sanctuary organises 200 processions every year from April to the end of October, and in winter during the Marian Feasts on 8th December and 11th February.
During the Procession, and depending on the day, the pilgrims recite the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful or Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. At the beginning of each decade, a few words in several languages give direction to the prayer so that it does not become a monotonous repetition. The Ave Maria and other hymns can be heard in many languages. In the serenity of the evening, each pilgrim carries his or her own personal intentions as the prayer gathers the assembly “of all nations, people and languages” with the Virgin Mary, like the disciples in the Cenacle after the Ascension of Christ. The procession always takes place regardless of the weather: the Lourdes pilgrim is prudent and knows when to carry an umbrella.
Did you know? From the very beginning of the Sanctuary the feutiers have watched over the burning candles. In the silence of prayer, day and night, the thousands of candles deposited by the pilgrims burn gently. These devoted men take turns from morning till night. Each year, an average of over 400 tons of wax is consumed. Candles can range from 130g for the most common, to colossal 70 kg. Some members of the team, called ‘the feutiers of the Apparition’, have the special task of watching over the candelabra of the Grotto made up of 90 candles with a larger candle at the summit.
At the end of the evening procession on 14th August 1983, Pope John Paul II said, “In this peaceful night we keep watch, we pray, no longer in the secret of our hearts, but as a great crowd on the move, following the risen Jesus Christ, each one lighting the way for the other”.