The Archdiocese of Dublin, along with many other dioceses, brought their yearly Lourdes pilgrimage online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Those remembered in their first ‘Virtual Pilgrimage to Lourdes’, which took place last week, were people who lost their lives since the pandemic began, those who are ill, and frontline workers.
It’s the second time in over half a century that there will be no Dublin diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, due to travel restrictions.
In September 2019, almost two thousand people took part – the sick, carers, their medical teams, youth groups, students and priests and parishioners.
A statement on the archdiocese’s website said: “Always a joyful, uplifting spiritual journey, it was with great sadness that the organisers were forced to cancel plans for 2020 in April last.
“Since 1949, when it was led by Archbishop John Charles Mc Quaid, thousands of Dubliners have accompanied sick pilgrims to the French Marian Shrine every September. The only other time the pilgrimage did not proceed was in 1953 when Dublin pilgrims, who had made their way from Westland Row in the city centre, to Dun Laoghaire, Holyhead, Dover, Calais and Paris found they could not leave Paris due to a train strike and had no choice but turn around and make the lengthy journey home again!”
On September 8, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin began the pilgrimage with an opening Mass in St Bernadette’s Church, Clogher Road. The pilgrimage took place in six different churches in the archdiocese over five days and on webcam. As numbers were restricted in each church, the wider public were invited to join live online.
For members of the deaf community there was an ISL Interpreter at all venues through the virtual journey.
Pilgrimage Director Fr Martin Noone said they were delighted to be able to connect directly with Lourdes on the virtual pilgrimage on Saturday while Mass was taking place in Dublin, a Dublin pilgrimage candle was left at the Chapels of Light near the Lourdes Grotto by Fionnuala Brua and Caroline Traynor. Fionnuala and Caroline both live in Lourdes and have worked with JWT on previous Dublin Pilgrimages.
Fr Noone said that while it was quite extraordinary to be able to bring people together in various ways in parish communities and online for Lourdes 2020, every member of the organising team and the wider Lourdes pilgrimage community are hoping and praying they will be boarding flights once again this time next year.