From April to August 2022, the relics of Saint Bernadette will tour the United States for the first time, bringing the grace of Lourdes to parishes across the country. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is organizing the pilgrimage of the relics in partnership with the Conference of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, North American Volunteers, Hospitalité of Miami and the Order of Malta.
Last week, the Relics arrived to my Parish in Port Wentworth, Georgia. The Parish is a small, mostly immigrant community at the main gates of the Port of Savannah. The Knights and Dames of Malta kept watch by the Relics during the hours that the faithful came to venerate them. There was a steady trickle of pilgrims for several hours, some of which had traveled for several hours to pray before the remains of Saint Bernadette.
The beautiful reliquary was crafted in Spain in 2018 and it contained bone fragments of the Saint. Instead of traveling to France to venerate the remains of Saint Bernadette, we had the opportunity to welcome her into our midst! We were blessed in the same way that the early disciples were blessed by having the shadow of Saint Peter pass over them, from the Acts of the Apostles.
The first evening, after Mass, there was a candlelight procession to our own Grotto of Lourdes. The second evening, there was a Virtual Pilgrimage Experience led in Spanish by Charo Loo Rojas who traveled from Miami with her husband Edwin. After this experience where the faithful were able to touch rocks from the Grotto of Lourdes and also water from the Grotto, we prayed a Rosary in procession from the church to the Grotto.
Both nights ended with Eucharistic Adoration and Confessions until about 10pm.
I feel that just as the Virgin Mary visited little Bernadette in the hidden village of Lourdes, Bernadette came to our little Parish. We may not have had the crowds that other stops in the Relics’ tour will have, but we had a special intimate experience. I know that there was much healing and reconciliation during the visit. What a blessing.
You can check if the Relics will be at a Parish near you in the official website: www.stbernadetteusa.org. The website contains the full itinerary with a map that shows the next stops.