Saturday, March 18, 2017 - Updated: 1:00 pm
Since 1858, pilgrims have flocked to Lourdes, France, to pray where the Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in a rock cave. Pilgrims from Pittsburgh are set to follow in their footsteps in October.
The Marian shrine of Lourdes has been added to the itinerary of the Pittsburgh Catholic-sponsored trip to France from Oct. 1-10. Bishop David Zubik will be the spiritual guide as pilgrims explore the wide assortment of sites that make up the historic nation of France.
An information session on the shrines of France pilgrimage is scheduled for 1:30-3 p.m. Saturday, March 25, in the Vanyo and Kraus rooms in O’Connor Hall at St. Paul Seminary, 2900 Noblestown Road in Crafton. For information and to register, e-mail Belinda Held at Belinda@unitours.com.
The travel plans, arranged by Unitours Inc., will feature arrival in Paris and stops in:
• Lisieux, the home of St. Therese, and Mass at the basilica named for her;
• The Normandy region and Caen, a key site during World War II;
• Mont Saint-Michel and its bay, which are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Its Gothic-style Benedictine abbey was built between the 11th and 16th centuries;
• The palace of Versailles;
• Paray le Monial, known as the City of the Eucharist;
• Chartres, a former pagan sanctuary that was evangelized in the fourth century and became a pilgrimage site in 876. Its 13th-century cathedral has more than 4,000 sculpted figures and 5,000 figures in stained-glass windows;
• Nevers and the convent of St. Gildard, where the incorrupt body of St. Bernadette Soubirous is kept in a glass reliquary, and the Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Margaret Mary Alacoque;
• Ars, the village of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests.
Two nights will be spent in Paris, where the pilgrims will visit the Basilica of Sacre Coeur at Montmartre, the highest point in Paris; Notre Dame Cathedral; enjoy a free afternoon to explore; tour the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, where Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure and gave her instructions to make the Miraculous Medal; and the tomb of St. Vincent de Paul at the Church of St. Lazare.
Along the way, the visitors will see the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower and the famous Champs-Elysees.
Overnight stays are set for Caen, Paris, Nevers, Ars and Lourdes, though all items on the itinerary are subject to change.
“I look forward to our time together in France, as we seek to learn more about our faith, celebrate Mass together and pray the many intentions we hold dear to our hearts, including those for our world, one another and our families,” Bishop Zubik said in an invitational letter to potential pilgrims.
To book the pilgrimage, call Marianna Pisano at 800-777-7432 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.