An update from the rector of the Lourdes Sanctuary, Monsignor Oliver Ribadeau Dumas…
President Macron spoke a few days ago and gave new perspectives on the health crisis we are going through. You are legitimately wondering what this means for the sanctuary of Lourdes. As it stands, I do not have very precise information to tell you, but I would like, as I have already done, to share with you some news.
Our sanctuary continues to live. Numerous media have echoed this unusual activity of the sanctuary, in the last days, marked by the uninterrupted prayer of the chaplains in the Grotto from morning to evening, bringing before Mary this suffering world and depositing in the Grotto the thousands of prayer intentions that we receive every day.
The sympathetic comments of journalists clearly show that what is experienced affects people. I can assure you that we do not have the impression of praying alone but that we are carried by all those who are in communion with us through the sanctuary’s website, social networks or French and international television channels. which broadcast important moments of the day. The Holy Week celebrations were, I believe, a support for many, and I am thankful. Do not hesitate to tell your pilgrims and the hospitality staff to live in this way a real communion between us.
The sanctuary lives. Especially in communion with the pilgrims who should have been present. The candle lit in the morning burns all day in the Grotto to symbolise all the pilgrimages that should have been here, there is the possibility of experiencing a spiritual pilgrimage thanks to this site, there is the possibility for those who wish to signify their spiritual presence by a votive candle that a chaplain lights every day by visiting this page. All this is, of course small, humble, but strongly symbolic.
Thank you for passing this information on. I am very appreciative of pilgrimages which offer highlights over the Internet to their pilgrims. Do not hesitate to ask us to pray for a particular intention during special moments of prayer.
The sanctuary lives. The Accueil Notre Dame has so far welcomed three people in precarious conditions with COVID and who do not require hospitalisation. This mission of attention to the sick and the most fragile therefore remains present and it is essential. We live this in connection with the health authorities and thanks to the support of the Red Cross.
The sanctuary lives, but that does not replace your presence, these celebrations and processions lived together, the fraternal attention paid to the most fragile among us on a daily basis. You miss it all, you tell us about it, and we also miss it badly.
This is a temporary situation. But make no mistake, it will take time for everything to return to normal. We are in contact with the authorities to see how and when the reception of pilgrims and the sick will be possible. The government should specify in the coming weeks the measures accompanying the announced deconfinement. We have to be careful – we know well how the health of each other is first. This will be our main concern. We will keep you posted as it develops, on what is planned for the sanctuary.
But this unprecedented and painful period inspires us to invent. Dates are never immutable even if they have been on agendas for years. Postponements are possible, even with a smaller number of pilgrims. The conditions in autumn are not the same as in spring, but Lourdes is always a place of grace, in any season.
The methods of coming to Lourdes may change: perhaps there will be fewer sick people this year, but the presence of pilgrims when the time comes will be a strong sign. Many will be keen to confide and give thanks to the Immaculate. It may not be possible to access the pools at first, but the water can be done differently. We maintain this opportunity to welcome those who wish to do so until December 8.
I am finishing this message, probably too long, to tell you how much there are very strong economic concerns for us about this closure of the sanctuary. Our business model, as you know, is based on giving.
We are now without resources. I know that our mission is pastoral and spiritual, but for us to carry it out, we need you, pilgrims, donors who wish that the sanctuary can continue this mission which we realize is necessary and useful for the world. A page has been created for this.
Thank you for relaying this information also.
Dear friends, I repeat my concern for you, the constant concern of the chaplains, the Directorate and all the staff of the sanctuary. We live in communion with you during this difficult period and will be ready to welcome you as soon as the time comes.
With the assurance of my prayer and my cordial feelings.
Monsignor Olivier Ribadeau Dumas
Rector of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes