Rome Newsroom, Jul 14, 2020 / 05:00 am
As global coronavirus cases have surpassed 13 million, Lourdes is offering a digital pilgrimage this week to pray for the sick on the anniversary of its final Marian apparition.
The Marian shrine will livestream the rosary in 10 languages, Mass for multiple time zones, and a procession with the relics of St. Bernadette July 16.
Lourdes has been known as a sanctuary for the sick for more than a century. The shrine contains a spring which is said to have miraculous healing properties.
July 16 marks the 18th and final apparition at the Lourdes’ grotto in 1858. St. Bernadette said of the event: “I saw only the Virgin. I have never seen her so beautiful.”
After months without pilgrims, the sanctuary is facing a forecasted loss of $9 million and is struggling to preserve the jobs of its 320 employees, who have already shortened their hours.
Mgr. Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, rector of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, launched an appeal upon the shrine’s reopening.
“For 162 years, Lourdes has been a place of friendship centered on the poor and sick, an unparalleled school of life, service and prayer. It is a spiritual jewel that never ceases to give meaning and hope to our lives,” he said.
“The resources of the sanctuary are reliant on the pilgrims who visit the site. Without them, without their offerings and donations, Lourdes cannot exist. The sanctuary was hit by these economic difficulties just after it had returned to financial equilibrium.”