Pilgrimage

Lourdes is a little village in the south of France, which is known to be a major site for pilgrimage attracting people from all over the world. Saint Bernadette Soubirous was a poor shepherd girl suffering from severe asthma. At the age of 14, Bernadette saw eighteen apparition between February to July of “a lady” which people thought that she was crazy but after finding out that the lady was the Virgin Mary and after her death, Bernadette’s body remained “incorrupt” people now believe her and built a shrine and church for her and Virgin Mary. Today, many Christians from around the world come to visit Lourdes as a pilgrimage to repent their sins and pray for their families and others.During each apparitions Mary commanded Bernadette to do something. One thing that Mary told Bernadette to do was to:”Come back to the Grotto for fifteen days”Bernadette kept her promise and came for fifteen days as Mary asked her to do. So today pilgrims follow Bernadette same footprints and keep their promise by coming to Lourdes as a pilgrimage and going to the grotto to pray as Bernadette did. Pilgrims today also light candles in front of the grotto to pay respect to Mary the mother of Jesus Christ. As well, some pilgrims may attend the morning mass that is held at the grotto and may receive the holy communion there.Another command Mary gave Bernadette was to:”Pray to God for Sinners”Bernadette prayed for sinners as Mary asked her to do, so today pilgrims will go to the Grotto and pray for sinners around the world. Pilgrims also pray for their friends and family who may have asked them to pray for their sins. Apart from that, this is an opportunity for pilgrims to get away from their busy lives, repent from their sins they have committed, reflect on their lives and build a better relationship with God.Another command Mary gave Bernadette was to:”Wash and drink from the spring”As Bernadette washed and bathed as Mary commanded, we today go to Lourdes to be immersed in the bath with spring water and drink from the spring. The spring water is said to have healing properties and cleansing powers. Because the springs are very cold it acts as a form of penance for the sins of the pilgrim and reminds them of their baptism. Some pilgrims might also take water from the spring in bottles for their families and relatives because they might also want some of the water maybe because of its spiritual or healing properties.A pilgrim may also go on a journey to the Holy Land. When talking about the Holy Land in Christianity, the land becomes holy when it comes in contact with any of God’s plan for salvation but mainly it refers to places in Jerusalem. Pilgrims visit the Holy land because these are the places where God’s plan for salvation occurred. In the Holy Land it includes important events such as the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For this reason pilgrims today visit Jerusalem to see and remember what Jesus did for us.Whilst in the Holy land a pilgrim may visit Bethlehem. It is believed that this is where God became incarnate as Jesus Christ. In Mathew 2:1 Gospel we hear:”After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod”A pilgrim may visit the Church of Nativity where they will have to enter through the “Door of humility” for the reason that it is said that the door is very low and you will have to bend down to enter. In the Church, pilgrims are given the chance to touch and kiss where Jesus was born. There is a star above Jesus Christ ‘s birthplace that pilgrims can touch, kiss and may also pray in front of it if they want to.Another place where pilgrims may visit is the Garden of Gethsemane where it is believed where Jesus prayed about his suffering and where he is arrested as said in Matthew 26:39:”He prayed my father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but with me.”A pilgrim today may visit the Church of All nations just located beside the garden were a number of olive trees planted around the area at the time. Pilgrims may pray in the Church for their suffering and other people suffering in the world. It’s a chance for pilgrims to remember the tough decisions Jesus had to made and prayed to God for help. Just has we should do in time of trouble. Also, it’s a chance to reflect on the suffering Jesus went through for us.A pilgrim may today visiting the Holy land to walk the route through which Jesus went through to where he was crucified also known as Via Dolorosa. This is given evidence in the book of Matthew 27:32-33″As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).”The Via Dolorosa is believed to be the route that Jesus went through, so pilgrims may walk this route so that they can feel just a fraction of what Jesus went through because it will be quiet humiliating as people living there may be watching and saying things about them. Also, the Via Dolorosa is marked by nine of the fourteen Stations of the Cross therefore pilgrims can pray in front of them from one to the other.The last five stations are inside the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. Pilgrims visit this Church because this is believed to be where Jesus was crucified and to see how he suffered for us on the cross is a means of aiding pilgrims in prayer and to reflect on their lives. Its also a chance for pilgrims to see the Church for the reason that the church is very beautiful and the many mosaics the church has is good chance for pilgrims to see. On Good Friday pilgrims make their way up the Via Dolorosa behind someone carrying a large wooden cross. A special service is also held every 3pm on Friday.

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