Hello! Happy Friday! I hope all is well with everyone. I'm taking a breather from work (yes, I do work for my husband...occasionally) to share my experience in Lourdes.
When we planned the trip to Lourdes, a small town in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France, we tried to look for the shortest and the easiest travel route.
Option 1: Paris to Lourdes via Train- 6-8 hours
Option 2: Barcelona to Toulouse via Plane then Toulouse to Lourdes via Train- 5 hours
Option 3: Madrid to Lourdes via Plane- 1.5 hours.
Option 3 was the obvious choice so we booked and paid for that.
THEN THE UNIMAGINABLE HAPPENED! My husband lost our passports in Barcelona.
Note: I will post separately about this.
Without a passport, I could only travel by land.
We ended up taking a 14 hour bus trip from MADRID TARBES.
It sounds horrible but I assure you, with humility and sincerity, that it was the BEST TRIP OF MY LIFE.
Not only did I spend 14 hours of uninterrupted conversation with my husband, I also started praying again.
You can only imagine the relief I felt when we arrived in Tarbes at 2 am. And, when I finally entered our hotel room in Lourdes, I praised God and Mama Mary.
The next day, we walked to the basilica. It was built at the behest of Mother Mary. At this point I started crying (I'm also tearing up as I write this).
It was so magical. Yes, granted that it does look like a Disney Castle.
It totally made sense why I had to travel 14 hours by bus to get there. It was as if Mother Mary planned for the whole thing. I felt relief, gratefulness, hope, joy and a profound renewal of faith. I felt an overwhelming slew of emotions.
I stayed in Lourdes for 3 days and I spent all those days repeatedly doing these activities:
1. Praying Rosary at the Grotto
This is the place where the Immaculate Conception appeared to Bernadette. I knelt down on the pavement, prayed the rosary and offered prayer intentions for my family and friends. Masakit pala lumuhod.
2. Blessing and Drinking of the Holy Water
I bought rosaries several times during my stay (there really wasn't much to buy, except religious artifacts). Every time I would buy, I would offered a prayer and place them under the running water to be blessed.
I would also drink a palm-full of the Holy Water before I would go to the grotto to pray the rosary.
I found myself bawling in tears when I confessed to the priest. I told him that I was upset that my husband lost our passports. After my confession, I asked him to pray over the rosaries.
He was surprised that I had 2 dozens! I told him they were for my family and friends.
He said, "Wow, you have so many friends!".
I responded, "Well, the people who ask me to pray for them, I automatically consider as my friends"
4. The Procession
Every night at around 8 pm, there is a procession. This was requested by Mary herself.
This was one of the highlight of this pilgrimage.
My feelings were even heightened as a result of my circumstance.
When I saw the sick people in wheel chairs and stretchers, I just started crying uncontrollably.
Here I was stressing God about my passport and here they were...sick people whose only hope is God.
That certainly put things in perspective.
5. The Baths
Million of Catholics go to Lourdes to drink and to bathe in the Holy and Miraculous waters. Many stories of miraculous healings have been reported since the water started flowing in 1858.
I went to the bath by myself because male and female bathing areas were separated from each other.
As I waited for my turn, I prayed the Holy Rosary and prayed for my intentions.
When I finally made it inside the bathing halls, the ladies asked me to remove ALL MY CLOTHES. YES NAKED. NO PANTY.
Then, they covered me with a robe as I waited. Honestly, I don't know if they wash those robe after every use but at that point, I threw my OCD out of the window.
This is the bathing room (Photo grabbed from: www.pbs.com)
The ladies prayed for me and then they asked me to pray for my intentions. Then, they dipped me into the FREEZING water.
What a rush! I felt really light and my heart felt very much at peace after that.
My trip to Lourdes was difficult. It wasn't even my idea! My husband wanted to go there, not me. But, I tell you, it was worth it. It was as if everything was planned from the amazing start to the disastrous loss of the passport and all culminating in my arrival at the town of Lourdes.