Washington DC, Nov 28, 2007 / 11:29 am (CNA).- Bishop of Lourdes Jacques Perrier announced on Tuesday the opening of a year-long celebration for the 150th Jubilee anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to St. Bernadette Soubirous.
He made the announcement in Washington, the see of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“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.
The Jubilee Year will formally open on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at a Mass in Lourdes honoring the feast day. The series of celebrations, pilgrimages, and missions will highlight the message of Lourdes in light of the "new evangelization."
Lourdes pilgrims will be invited to follow the "Jubilee Path" by visiting the baptismal font where St. Bernadette was baptized, the abandoned jail where she and her impoverished family lived throughout the apparitions, the grotto where she saw the Blessed Virgin eighteen times, and the chapel where Bernadette made her First Communion.
Six million pilgrims, including more than 500,000 American Catholics, are estimated to visit the sanctuaries at Lourdes, France every year.
On the occasion of the Jubilee Year, parishes, schools, hospitals and grotto replicas linked to the pilgrimage site or Our Lady of Lourdes or her title of the Immaculate Conception are being invited to reunite themselves to Lourdes' original message of conversion and penance.
Further information on Lourdes and the Jubilee are available at www.lourdes-france.org and www.lourdes2008.com.