150th anniversary of French national pilgrimage in Lourdes  (ANSA)

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Aug 18 2023

Pope Francis sends greetings to the 20,000 faithful from France and all over the world who were gathered in Lourdes on 15 August 2023 for the 150th pilgrimage for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“Let us turn resolutely to the Blessed Mother, since she is our Mother and we are her children!”

Pope Francis gave this exhortation as he expressed his closeness to the some 20,000 faithful gathered from all over France and around the world, at the Marian Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes for the Feast of the Assumption, as he recalled that 15 August 2023 marked the 150th anniversary of the national pilgrimage to the site.

“I join you in your fervent prayer of supplication and gratitude to our beloved Mother, especially on this feast day of 15 August.”

The Pope expressed his joy to see the faithful maintain this long tradition of worship and devotion, noting that many of the faithful, in Lourdes, and in the cathedrals and parishes of France, “are praying to Our Lady with the greatest filial confidence, a confidence that never disappoints.”

Rediscovering tenderness toward Mary through devotion

The Holy Father encouraged pastors “to constantly nurture and strengthen the love and tenderness that the faithful feel towards their beloved Patroness, particularly through using or rediscovering popular acts of devotion.”

For example, he commended the “beautiful processions on 15 August, a tradition in your country for nearly four hundred years.”

“More than ever, the world, and in particular France, which has been solemnly consecrated to her – a consecration that cannot be abolished – needs Mary’s protection in the face of the difficulties, concerns and challenges of the present day,” he said.

Turning to Mary for much-desired peace

The Pope prayed that Mary, the Queen of Peace, intercede with her Son so that “much-desired peace may be established wherever the noise of arms is heard.”

He called upon her “to awaken” in everyone’s hearts “genuine sentiments of fraternal love, so that societies grow harmoniously in respect for others, safeguarding their dignity and rights, and so that no one is left by the wayside.”

Protecting families in a special way

Pope Francis also prayed that Jesus’ Mother protect families “in a special way.” He specifically recalled “parents who bear the daily burden of a heavy responsibility,” and young people, “so rich in potential, but often worried about their future, or unfortunately already hindered by many constraints.”

The Pope then turned his thoughts to the elderly, whome he said are “rich in their experience and wisdom” but are “too often, abandoned and neglected.” 

In this context, Pope Francis asked the Virgin Mary to comfort all who suffer, are ill, alone, marginalized or exiled.

Unshakeable hope, eloquent witness of faith

In a special way, the Pope offered his closeness to all the sick and disabled people present, recalling the great numbers who travel to Lourdes to seek Mary’s consolation.

He said that they, together with those who accompany them, “give the world an eloquent witness of faith and charity.”

Pope Francis concluded by urging pilgrims to let their faith produce in them “unshakeable hope,” on which they must build their lives and societies, and by imparting, “with great joy,” his blessing upon everyone gathered at Lourdes, and to all the faithful of France and its pastors. – Vatican News