Bishop Jaques Perrier, president of the Bishops Conference of France, has confirmed that Pope John Paul II will travel to Lourdes in August to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
Bishop Perrier said Bishop Renato Boccardo, who organizes papal visits, was in Lourdes last week in order to review preparations that will need to be made for the visit.
Bishop Boccardo said the trip will be a testimony to “the personal devotion and the veneration of the universal Church” towards the Virgin Mary. He added that the Papal trip will be neither a state visit nor a pastoral trip, saying a meeting with the president of France is not currently on the agenda. “A meeting with Jacques Chirac is not on the schedule, but it has not been excluded,” he said.
Bishop Perrier said the Pope will possibly celebrate Mass on August 15, the feast of the Assumption. The trip would be John Paul’s third to France and his second to Lourdes. In 1983 he became the first Pontiff to visit the popular Marian shrine.