Lourdes Candle Procession
After a restful dinner at a street cafe, I returned to the large cathedral complex at Lourdes to attend the 9:00pm candlelight procession. I purchased a tall candle at a souvenir shop that would burn for an hour that set me back .50€.
It would be difficult to say the evening candlelight procession was the highlight of my experiences at Lourdes because there are many uplifting things I experienced, but I admit that I found it goose-bump inspiring. (Read also my next post about the experience at the Lourdes baths.)
I joined with a group of people waiting at the cathedral for the procession to begin. I believe the procession was the same mass-type service that I experienced at the earlier services in the day, but the evening procession is completed entirely while walking, outside, following behind a dramatic palaquin of a large statue of Mary.
Our Lady of Lourdes instructed Bernadette to “Go to the priests and tell them that people should come here in procession.” The evening procession has happened every evening for over 100 years.
During the procession the service was in alternating (maybe six or eight) languages broadcast out over the large, high quality speakers. The organ music and singing was riveting. When the prayers were said in English I finally realized we were repeatedly reciting the Hail Mary prayer. My Catholic memories kicked in and I could finally take part!
I walked with my lit candle, reciting the prayer with the crowd, and singing Ave Maria each time it came around, following many Hail Mary prayer recitations in many languages. Watch my three YouTube videos for short segments of the procession to get a good sense of it.
The large crowd followed the palanquin out and around the promenade that I had earlier marveled at its size. Brilliantly laid out, I now notice the bricks are out down in such a way to organize the nightly procession. The whole event happens smoothly, allowing the participants to focus on the prayers.
The sky was interestingly moody and overcast today, the day sticky and muggy. Suddenly a thunder storm came upon us! Flashes of lightning filled the sky and the advancing procession had a good dose of heavy rain. A lot of umbrellas popped up (where had these people been concealing these?). I continued the procession in the rain, not having packed my rain jacket. Continuing with the prayers and singing for a while, I regarded the dramatic night sky and steady rain to be rather cleansing.
It had been a most fulfilling evening, full of deep inspiration and prayer. I made my way back to the hostel for some welcomed rest, being completely full up in spirit from a busy day with Our Lady.