We have just returned from a twelve day pilgrimage to Fatima, Lourdes, Shrines in Paris and in Lisieux; it was indeed a journey with Mary, the Mother of God. Often when people think of the Virgin Mary, they think of her at a Nativity scene, or various images on prayer cards or perhaps a statue in a Catholic Church.
Well, if you went on a Marian Pilgrimage, your views or thoughts about Mary would certainly be changed! We encountered her maternal mercy on this trip.
This pilgrimage introduced the fifty eight pilgrims to Mary through various experiences such as visiting the sites she appeared in Fatima and Lourdes, by learning the messages she gave at these sites, by praying the Rosary with others and discovering a relationship with her.
This journey helped us to “become child-like”, to feel free to “run to Mary and embrace her a child would to a mother”. And in doing so, our hearts were open to receive the graces and blessings from her Son, Jesus.
Would like to share a few highlights of our Marian Pilgrimage.
In Fatima, we had Mass at the Chapel of Apparition, where Mary appeared to three small children in 1917. We visited the homes of the three seers, they were humble and poor. And the pilgrims had a Holy Hour, we prayed before Jesus in His Eucharistic Presence.
The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, its unique stained glass windows depicted salvation history, its reliquaries containing relics of Saints, and it’s sacred art.
Sacre Coure (Sacred Heart Basilica) in Paris, built in the 19th century on a hill where Christians were martyred years before, this Basilica gave us a history of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Candles burned throughout the Basilica, lit by visitors and pilgrims seeking the mercy of God. The pilgrims were invited to have lunch with with the Benedictine Sisters of the Sacred Heart.
Rue de Bac (Miraculous Medal Shrine) in Paris – Mary appeared to Catherine of Laboure in the early 1900’s and gave her a mission to struck a Medal with her image. Today, that medal is called “The Miraculous Medal” for the many graces and miracles which occurred through the intercession of Mary.
Lisieux, near Paris – the home of a modern day Saint – Therese who became a Carmelite nun at the age of 15 and died at the age of 24. Thanks to her writings entitled “Story of a Soul”, published one year after her death, Therese became rapidly known and loved throughout the word. Her story was one of loving God, by living our daily lives with a great love for God. The Pilgrims had Mass in the Basilica of Lisieux built shortly after Therese’s death. We visited her home and the Carmelite convent where she lived.
Lourdes – Mary appeared to Bernadette a 14 year old girl from a humble, poor home in 1858. The Pilgrims had Mass at the Grotto where Mary appeared. Experiencing the Baths was an extraordinary experience, read more about this in the blog.
Mary’s words from the gospel of John: “Do Whatever He Tells You.” mean so much more to us now.