Pilgrimage Day 2

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Home Page > Travelogues > France > Lourdes > Pilgrimage Day 2

Other Chapters in the Lourdes section: Lourdes Sanctuary ] Pont Vieux ] Fort and City ] Pilgrimage Day 1 ] [ Pilgrimage Day 2 ] Pilgrimage Day 3 ]


47th Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes, Part 2


The second day of the pilgrimage was jam packed with activities, starting early in the morning and going all the way to midnight.  All this under an unusually searing-hot sun that caused some to skip out on some of the afternoon activities -- but we braved it out.  Here were the highlights from the daytime.  Check the above chapter listings to access stories about the other pilgrimage days.


The first event was very early in the morning, a combined Mass at the Grotto for all comers.  As the picture shows, this was a standing room only event, drawing hundreds around the statue of the Virgin Mary as an international group of priests conducted the celebration.  After Mass, we got in line to walk around the interior of the caves, touching the wet walls for good luck and God's Blessing.

The next event was the taking of the photographs.  Each contingent was allocated a slice of time to form in front of the basilica to take their group photo.  Photography was provided by one of the studios in the Pont Vieux part of town, where one could buy a copy at a special (well, high) price.  The event began with the arrival of Vatican guards, shown in their loud purple, red, and gold garb.

The next several photographs show scenes of the units preparing for or getting their photographs taken.  Almost all the contingents took the matter formally -- dressed in their best uniforms, marched to and from the event, and patiently standing at ease in formation while the photo shoots went predictably well behind schedule.

This was one of my favorite special uniform shots.  One might have thought that this was a French or Spanish offering with the musketeer-styled dress, but in reality it was the Slovak color guard sporting this sharp outfit.  Many of the newly-independent Catholic countries from Eastern Europe had very large contingents in attendance.

This was the resulting photograph for the Portuguese contingent, one of the better photos taken on the day.

The American contingent was among the last photos to be taken, and we immediately headed up the hill to take part in the Stations of the Cross (more of which is described in the Sanctuary chapter.  A number of other contingents did likewise, so the path was a big traffic jam.

This was another shot in the Stations of the Cross sequence.  The readings were performed by members of the contingent, while one of the Priests conducted the opening and closing prayers. 

Somewhere beyond the halfway point of the stations, we passed a vantage point overlooking this scene, of the tent city that was provided for some of the service members in attendance (not all contingents could afford to stay in hotels).  The flags indicated where the servicemembers came from.

This was the scene at the so-called 'fifteenth' station, representing the rock that covered the entrance to Christ's tomb.  I cannot read the words mounted on the rock at upper right, but it announces Christ's resurrection.  For us, it also meant we could begin the long and refreshingly-downhill descent back to the Sanctuary.  What a climb!

We had lunch and the early afternoon to ourselves.  The next event was late afternoon at the Lourdes War Memorial, discussed further in the Fort and City chapter.  This memorial service was conducted by the armies of those nations that participated in the World Wars, plus contingents representing the Stabilization Force (SFOR) and the forces in Kosovo (KFOR).  We had a terrific vantage point for the opening parade as the columns made a right turn directly in front us to the Memorial grounds off the photo to the left.

It was difficult to see the service taking place, this photograph was the best we could do.  After all the units reached the field behind the Memorial, there were speeches, the playing of Taps, and the laying of wreaths to commemorate the war dead.

We departed back toward our hotel as soon as the recession began.  We captured this shot of the color guards making the turn down the street past our hotel and toward the Sanctuary.  It was time to get dinner and prepare for the big event of the evening... the Maria Procession.

Click here to see the final chapter of the Pilgrimage event in Lourdes -- including the Maria Procession and Day 3 activities.

Trip taken 25-27 May 2005 -- Page Last Updated 04 October 2006 -- (C) 2006 Tom Galvin

Other Chapters in the Lourdes section: Lourdes Sanctuary ] Pont Vieux ] Fort and City ] Pilgrimage Day 1 ] [ Pilgrimage Day 2 ] Pilgrimage Day 3 ]


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