The Relic Tour reached 1 in 4 UK Catholics, with many thousands of people actively participating in the visit.
On Thursday 1 September 2022, the relics of St Bernadette Soubirous began a 11,500-mile journey from the Sanctuary in Lourdes to UK churches, cathedrals, a hospital and one prison, offering a once in a lifetime opportunity to people of all faiths and none to visit the saint’s sacred relics at one of 52 public venues.
The UK Tour marked the very first time that St Bernadette’s relics had visited the UK, with thousands of people across three nations journeying in prayer to be part of the experience. A quarter of a million people participated in the pilgrimage, with 1 in 4 UK Catholics visiting the relics in person during the two-month tour and many more participating in prayer services, vigils, and special masses, online.
The life and legacy of St Bernadette has touched the lives of many millions of people across the world; 160 years after the first pilgrimages to Lourdes began it remains one of the busiest Christian pilgrimage sites in the world with the Catholic Church acknowledging 70 miracles as having taken place there.
One visitor to the relics said: “We are all here for different reasons, but we are all [experiencing] the wonder of St Bernadette, and that brings hope.”
More than 500kg of prayer cards, written by UK pilgrims visiting St Bernadette’s relics, were delivered to the Grotto in Lourdes by Relic Tour drivers Gerry O’Malley and Bob Lavery at the close of the pilgrimage in October. To commemorate the visit and to offer a small glimpse of the many graces made possible during the pilgrimage, the team behind the Relic Tour have released a special legacy film on YouTube.
A spokesperson from the Relic Tour Team said: “The arrival of St Bernadette’s relics to the UK was a great blessing particularly after the Covid-19 pandemic, offering a spiritually enriching opportunity for people in England, Scotland, and Wales to gather together at churches and cathedrals across three nations. We hope that this short film encourages people to reflect on the message of St Bernadette and consider visiting Lourdes themselves in the future.”
You can watch the Relic Tour Legacy film here: http://youtu.be/3HY8iT2GioM
For information about the 2023 Leeds Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes go to https://www.dioceseofleeds.org.uk/pilgrimages/