Reflections after leaving the Blessed City of Lourdes
Coming to Lourdes I, being a Catholic, only knew of the spiritual reasons for visiting the city. After arriving I learned of the others, which included visiting the castle. I found this fort, like others I have visited, to be a wonderful feat of stone craftsmanship and have a very neat history. One thing I found striking about this fort was its placement on top of a hill in the city. With this placement, the fort boasted amazing views which would have been very useful when one needed to watch for enemies. I think that the guards of this fort during the time of its use were very lucky.
The next day the group gathered again and we ventured to the Basilica and Grotto. Again hundreds if not thousands of people milled around this space. The first thing we did was to place candles in the alley of candles. Since everyone visiting the Grotto all have similar agendas, one finds that we all help one another out. An example of this was when an elderly man asked one of our group members to help him carry 5 of this 10 large candles. Our member immediately said yes and the entire group and the man walked down to the alley together. This is just another example of how complete strangers can come together over such a common belief and agenda. We later ventured to the Grotto itself and once again I was overcome with emotions. We all walked around the grotto where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette many years ago. As we walked around we all touched our hands to the rocky walls and touched Mary's sacred water seeping through the rocks. When I saw the stream which Mary created I burst into tears. Even today I do not know why but I do know that being so close to something which the Mother of God created should be cause for emotions. After the Grotto we all filled our bottles with the sacred water and then split up. I found myself returning to the Grotto to pray a rosary and just pray in the holy space. For me this was a perfect way to spend my time. While praying in the Grotto I could not help but look up at the enormous Basilica looming above me. I could not help myself to think about how we had built such an amazing structure for Mary and how it helped show our praise for her.
All photos were taken by RaeAnna Zinniel