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Sunshine and joy: 59th annual international pilgrimage of the Order of Malta to Lourdes

British Association pilgrims, first timers and old timers, join in prayer and thanksgiving

Lourdes, 9 May 2017

The Grotto, Lourdes Sanctuary

The Grotto, Lourdes SanctuaryFor all the days of this year’s pilgrimage the sun shone. The almost 7,000 pilgrims, representing 43 nationalities, were greeted in a moving speech by the Lieutenant of the Grand Master, Fra’Giacomo Dalla Torre: ‘For some of you it has not only been a long journey, but one carried out when home situations are very difficult, where there is unrest, civil conflict or natural catastrophes. We salute your courage. For others, difficulties may have been different, practical ones – the physical efforts needed to get into trains or onto planes to reach this inspirational shrine.’

The Lieutenant especially thanked the Special Delegate of His Holiness, Archbishop Becciu, the Lourdes organisers, the French Association President, Thierry de Beaumont-Beynac , the splendid organisation of the Lourdes Sanctuaire by Alain de Tonquedec and his team, ‘…and to every one of you here, as we pray and work together.’

BASMOM Vice President and volunteer Daniella Gardner

BASMOM Vice President Patricia Talbot and volunteer Daniella GardnerBritish Association pilgrims – newcomers and many long serving volunteers and malades who return, year after year – were inspired, with young and old worked together in great harmony, on the wards, in the dining room, on the Prairie, in the Basilicas, at the Grotto. Special events were celebrated with great joy, such as the ninth wedding anniversary (plus a large chocolate cake and many sparklers) of malades John and Lara Belson.

John and Lara Belson light a Lourdes candle for their anniversary with Dr Christine Furness

John and Lara Belson light a Lourdes candle for their anniversary with Dr Christine FurnessAs Fra’Giacomo Dalla Torre said: ‘Lourdes is so special because it is dedicated, through the Virgin Mary, to supporting the sick. So it is important for the hope and courage it brings to every one of us who makes this journey – perhaps one time or many, many times. Lourdes is a place of healing. The Grotto where Bernadette saw the apparition is a central point for the faithful and we know that many miracles have occurred here. For us today the miracle is that we are invited to be present, to partake of the waters at the Grotto, to pray there, to feel peace and serenity in ourselves.’ 

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The mission of the Order of Malta is inspired by its tradition of ‘Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum', to assist the poor and the sick, and bear witness to the Christian faith.


The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law. The Order - which is based in Rome, in via Condotti - has its own Government, an independent magistracy, and bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 countries.


The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. Present in Palestine in around 1048, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature.