I travelled to Lourdes to see the shrine to Our Lady for the first time. I flew from Dublin with a group from the Defence Forces to take part in the 55th international military pilgrimage. Minister of State at the Department of Defence and government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe TD (Wexford) joined the group two days later. The military pilgrims were led by Brigadier Michael Finn GOC 2nd Brigade (formerly Eastern), who was also making his first visit to the shrine in the Pyrenees.
The tradition of the International Military Pilgrimage (IMP) to the French Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes began in 1958, after what was initially a regional pilgrimage and later national pilgrimage was made international to recognise officially the many soldiers that had been arriving.
The Irish contingent arrived on Wednesday 22nd and this year’s international pilgrimage took place from May 24th-26th. I am now updating this blog following my return. Major events during the stay in the foothills of the French Alps included a parade on Friday, adoration in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary and on Sunday a Mass in the large underground Basilica of St. Pius X followed by a closing ceremony in the afternoon, in which all the bands particpate. Many other activities took place within the individual national groups, including the Irish.