In Sanctuary of Lourdes: The Torchlight Marian Procession
The sanctuary of Lourdes is the second Catholic destination, right behind Rome and no doubt, one of the most visited places in France. Located in the small town of Lourdes in the region of the Hautées Pyrénées, inside a green fresh valley. The beautiful scenery, nature, peacefulness, relaxation and most of all the faith and devotion towards the Virgin of Lourdes are the characteristics that come with the way of life in this area.
Nowadays, the Sanctuary of Lourdes is a cosmopolitan place, a universal sanctuary which strength comes from the diversity of its people. It is considered the first pilgrimage Marian destination in the world. Pilgrims and visitors that come to Lourdes come from all continents. Each year, more than 6 million people arrive to this place. Many of these visitors are youngsters, but most of all, the sick. They arrive looking for relief and hope. Three are the symbols that characterize this sanctuary: the Water -sign of purification-, the Rock -place of the apparition- and the Light, that represents the faith and hope.
The Torchlight Marian Procession takes place each evening at 9.00 pm as it has done since 1872.
The welcoming of pilgrims and announcements begin at 8.45 pm. The Evening Procession begins from the Prairy and ends in the square in front of the Rosary Basilica. Between torches, pilgrims carry a statue of Our Lady (a copy of the Cabuchet statue of the Blessed Virgin). During the Procession, the pilgrims walk in groups behind their pilgrimage banner. Everyone is invited to carry a lighted candle in their hand as a reminder of Baptism. At the end of the Procession, the Priests and Bishops present give the Blessing.
According to the Sanctuaire Notre-Dame de Lourdes website it's the most popular celebration in Lourdes.These photos were taken in August 2016.