Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France

We initially hesitated about going to Lourdes because it was out of our way. But then every time I removed it from our list, I went back to the promise my husband and I made to his mother. A few months before she got sick, we shared with my in-laws our plans of moving to France. My mother-in-law was particularly pleased and was excited to someday visiting us and going to Lourdes. Being a devout Catholic, visiting Lourdes was important to her. Unfortunately, months later she succumbed to cancer and MR and I promised ourselves we would go to Lourdes in honor of her. Which is why, I felt a particular tinge in my heart at the thought of not going ahead to Lourdes during our vacation. Budget-wise, we could just work harder as soon as we got home, and kilometers-wise, what was 300 kilometers more than originally planned?! So we went ahead with our plans and had absolutely no regrets.

We arrived in Lourdes in one piece, although we had to go around and around the city to find our hotel and a parking space. I was a bit stressed and careful not to hit pedestrians as people were popping out of nowhere in the streets. As I parked our car, it was acting strange, but I chose to ignore it. I shouldn't have, but anyways .... Being that it was mid-afternoon, we got our hotel keys, left our bags in the room, and went straight to the sanctuary.

When I was a little girl, it was our family tradition to come to Lourdes every year. Like my mother-in-law, my mother was a devout Catholic too. I have family albums filled with photos of my family and I in vacation here. As I turned to face Our Lady of Lourdes, I couldn't help but think of these moments. I have lost so much in these past years. Sometimes when I feel particularly sad, I can't help but think of some of my friends who have both of their parents alive and well. I don't even have one. And I lost my mother a lot time ago. But I don't stay sad too long, because in a lot of ways, I know I am one of the lucky ones too.

This image never grows old. Funny, but our daughter, SO, first thought it was the castle from Disneyland. LOL. (click here for the post).

From what I remembered from my childhood, I knew we could fill bottles with holy water for free.
Before going in the Sanctuary, we made a quick stop by the nearby shops to get bottles and other souvenir items. We made sure to get extra bottles to give to our family and friends. The water is said to heal the sick.

This is where the little girl, Bernadette Soubirous, was said to have seen the Virgin Mary.
The source of the holy water is covered by a glass screen and is lighted.

What I felt here was unexplainable. I have no exact words to describe it. I felt my goosebumps and my hairs standing all over my body. I felt something reaching to me, but I still have no idea what it was.

We took a moment to light a candle and think of the loved ones that have left us. But also, the ones that are still alive and far away from us. I'm lucky to live by my half-sister now, but MR has 4 brothers and sisters living in different countries of the world and his father is still living and in good health.

We wanted to participate in the Torchlight Procession, which takes place everyday at 9PM.

Joining the procession was great. But seeing the number of sick people being transported in wheelchairs is depressing. It made me realize that in life, if you don't have your health, all other things like money and power don't matter. It was hard for me to see this. I lived my childhood with moments of sickness, hospitals, doctor appointments, treatments, medications,and hope. Now, I try living my life away from all that. Perhaps that's why seeing all these sick and hopeful men and women felt like a slap in my face.


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