It was surprising to find that two different worlds exist in the same town of Lourdes. The first is a world of brightly painted hotels, complete with fully furnished lounges and bars, cafes and souvenir shops where almost everything sold is said to have some connection with the Grotto and the Catholic Faith. The other, a world of silence and procession, is in the grounds of the Basilica and Grotto. Here the spring water has been tapped off to supply the baths and public taps, and an atmosphere of prayer and meditation is felt, as the sick wait in hope of a cure.
Two processions are held daily. The first of these takes place in the afternoon, and, at the end of the Blessed Sacrament is passed over the sick. In the evening, there is a torchlight procession at which each pilgrim holds a lighted candle, and the continuous sound of the "Aves" rings out in the night as the column of light streams around the Grotto area.
The average day, if there was one, was spent moving between the two worlds of Lourdes, from Mass to souvenir shop, from procession to cafe, and I think that I can speak for everyone when I say that we all had an enjoyable time. This was especially so because of the very happy atmosphere which existed between the different groups in our hotel, and, as a result, practical jokes flowed like water.
The only feeling of sadness came at the end of our week in Lourdes, when we had to return home
to England. In closing, I must thank Father Louis and Mr. Pickles for putting up with us for a
week, and Father Louis again for organizing the trip, and working so hard to make it a success.