On 11th February 1858 while collecting firewood from a grotto in the refuse area used by the inhabitants of a small village called Lourdes, an unknown girl claimed to have seen a ‘beautiful lady’.
This girl was called Bernadette Soubirous and she continued to receive apparitions from this ‘beautiful lady’ who revealed herself as the ‘Immaculate Conception’ and gave a message to the world asking for a chapel to be built and for the faithful to come in procession to wash and drink at the spring.
Each year some 5 million people from over 130 countries throughout the world respond to this call and come to visit Lourdes. Every pilgrim who returns home after a pilgrimage to Lourdes does so renewed, refreshed and in some way changed.
College Hospitalité Centenary in 2023
Dear Old Wimbledonians,
As an old boy of a Catholic College founded in 1892, you are no doubt familiar with tradition. But there is one very important milestone coming up which you might not be aware of: next year, 2023, marks the centenary of the College's first working party to Lourdes. Attached is a brief history of our association with Lourdes over the past hundred years, which also explains something of our work at the shrine.
Over this time, our College parties have introduced many hundreds of old boys and others to the unique experience of serving the sick and disabled in Lourdes. This has left a lasting impression on many of those who have come with us to Lourdes, including, no doubt, some of you.
To mark the occasion, we are planning a short pilgrimage to Lourdes, coinciding with the dates when our main working party will be there. The pilgrimage will be led by Fr. Michael Holman SJ, a former headmaster of the College, whom many of you will of course know. The pilgrimage will be open to all old boys, as well as their family and friends, or indeed any friend of the College.
We are proposing a 5-day pilgrimage, running from Friday 25 August 2023 to Tuesday 29 August 2023. An indicative cost for the pilgrimage would be £500, including half-board at a centrally located hotel, flights and transfers.
Plans are still very much at an early stage, so the purpose of this announcement is to gauge the level of interest before going further. But I do very much hope that you will be able to join us in 2023, our momentous centenary year. It will be an opportunity to discover Lourdes for the first time from a unique perspective, seeing the work that the College parties do in Lourdes, or perhaps even rekindling memories of your own time in Lourdes.
No commitment is necessary at this stage, but if you are interested in coming on the pilgrimage, please could you email WimbledonLourdes100@gmail.com, indicating the number of people you anticipate being in your party.
I very much look forward to hearing from you.
President, Wimbledon College Lourdes Hospitalité