WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 28, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The bishop of Lourdes, France, where Our Lady appeared to a young shepherd girl 150 years ago, is inviting Americans to make a pilgrimage during the jubilee year marking the anniversary of the apparitions.
Bishop Jacques Perrier made this recommendation Tuesday during a trip to the United States to promote the yearlong celebrations that will begin this Dec. 8 and end Dec. 8, 2008.
Dec. 8 is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is the title that Mary took when she appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes.
Bishop Perrier made his appeal at the U.S. bishops’ conference in the nation’s capital as part of a series of visits to cities around the globe, including Paris, Rome and London.
“I invite the people of the United States to visit Lourdes during the jubilee year or to honor the anniversary at home in their parishes with prayer, with service to the sick and disabled or by pilgrimage to local grotto replicas throughout the country,” Bishop Perrier said.
Each pilgrim going to Lourdes will be invited to follow the “Jubilee Path” in four steps: the baptismal font where Bernadette was baptized, the “cachot” where she lived with her family throughout the apparitions, the grotto where the saw the Blessed Virgin 18 times and the chapel where Bernadette made her first Communion.
A novena will be offered, downloadable from the Internet, for all those desiring to be pilgrims at home and to make possible the involvement of communities throughout the world associated with Lourdes and St. Bernadette.
It is estimated that more than 500,000 American Catholics visit the sanctuaries at Lourdes every year. The annual number of pilgrims to the shrine tops 6 million.