Vatican City, May 21, 2010 / 18:00 pm
Lourdes, France is this weekend's destination for thousands of military personnel and their families who will participate in the 2010 International Military Pilgrimage. Since 1958, the Shrine has seen soldiers from all over the world come in peace to venerate Mary.
The tradition of the International Military Pilgrimage (IMP) to the French Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes began in 1958, after what was initially a regional pilgrimage and later national pilgrimage was made international to officially recognize the many NATO soldiers that had been arriving.
This year's 52nd pilgrimage takes place from May 21-23 and, according to organizers, will see nearly 12,000 pilgrims. An American outfit is represented in addition to 36 other delegations from as far away as Australia and Kenya and one formed of UN-mandated troops based in Kosovo.
Pilgrimage organizer and French military ordinary, Bishop Luc Ravel, spoke of the event saying that “the encounter brings with it the will of every military man of the world to work together for peace, the final good that we all seek. Also for a soldier, the use of weapons isn't the only way to promote peace between nations or within a people.”