“They evangelise us”: the moving documentary on Lourdes which shows the uplifting faith of sick pilgrims.

Published on 6 February 2020 - 07:00

Warning! Moving documentary! Over the course of several pilgrimage seasons, Laurent Jarneau from the Sanctuary of Lourdes (France) went to meet men and women, affected by illness or disability, but all carrying an indescribable hope anchored in Jesus Christ. They arouse a certain admiration for the courage and love they show, because these everyday heroes are above all heralds of the faith. Their testimony is priceless.

What a responsibility!

Carried on radiant faces that strive to veil the ordeal of suffering, and carried on voices that are both gentle and energetic, the new film by Laurent Jarneau aptly illustrates the words of the president of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of the New Evangelisation, Archbishop Rino Fisichella (1): “Sick pilgrims, through their particular circumstances, are called to take on the awareness and responsibility of bringing the good news of the Gospel, which saves us. We can therefore affirm that the sick are truly the primary evangelisers of the Sanctuary of Lourdes.”

Words of anthology

The sick (or disabled) are indeed the primary evangelisers. You just have to see them and listen to them.
Selected pieces.
Lydie: “Between body and soul, I would choose my soul. We want to go to Heaven much more than we want to walk!”
Andrew: “For me it’s close and almost perfect contact with the Lord, that’s healing.”
Evelyne: “I deeply believe that there is something after death and for me this something is this infinite love in which we will be immersed but this love for me is here already!”
Sophie: “Prayer if we let go of it is concrete and pragmatic: disability takes up all the space …”
Cédric: “As low as we have fallen, with God we always get up again!”
Sister Catarina: “It is said that in the shadow of the cross there is the resurrection.”
Martine: “My life would have been so sad and dreary without Christ and without Mary.”
Jean-Noël: “There is a lot of suffering among the living: in their soul it is hell, too.”
Raymonde: “Faith is our daily companion: we get up with faith, we go to bed with faith. Faith is still 90% hope and 10% doubt.”
Brother Matthieu: “Illness is a sickness that speaks in us, but good also speaks in us.”
Alexiane: “I pray, I pray a lot! Ah yeah, I love prayer!”

Having Christ close at hand”

“This perspective allows us to look at each sick person with the eyes of faith. The sick then become pilgrims, recognising the presence of Christ who asks for help and who in return offers his saving love,” said Bishop Fisichella. The documentary ends with Jeanne, suffering from myopathy, whose words perfectly illustrate those of Archbishop Fisichella: “When Jesus says “Everything that you do for the least  of my brothers, you do for me” it’s a phrase that resonates with me a lot especially because he identified with the most vulnerable among us but also, because he was giving a message not to the sick this time but to the caregivers by reminding them that it’s like an honour to serve the sick, it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to care for Christ, to have Christ close at hand. Anyone of us can have this. It is quite miraculous. So, I find these words very powerful and I think if we took them more seriously, I think we could call hospitals “sanctuaries” at last.

The film ends with a tribute to Andrew and Lydie who died from their illnesses. Their testimony of hope will never fade in the hearts of all who heard it.

(1) in an article published in Bulletin n° 143 of the International Medical Association of Lourdes