A group of 250 parishioners from St. Rose of Lima Parish in Poinciana and Holy Redeemer Parish in Kissimmee, went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France on Feb. 12 without ever leaving their pews.
Thanks to technology and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospitality North American Volunteers, parishioners were able to experience a virtual pilgrimage which included a 90-minutes experience enabling them to draw near to God in the company of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette. Through projected images and music similar to what would be heard at the pilgrimage site, parishioners were transported to Lourdes from their own seat, minus the jet lag.
Participants were able to touch a piece of the grotto rock and water from the grotto spring, received a Eucharistic blessing and participated in a candlelight rosary. Granted by the Apostolic See, pilgrims were even able to get a plenary indulgence as they would on an actual pilgrimage.
More than 115,000 pilgrims have experienced the Lourdes Virtual Pilgrimage since it began in 2004. St. Rose of Lima parishioner Jacqueline De Fazio was born 20 minutes from Lourdes and attended Catholic school there. De Fazio, who has been to Lourdes several times, said attending the virtual pilgrimage “was like going back to my childhood. It shows the beauty of the mountains, the valley and the altar. And when you touch the rock, it reminds me of the way it was. You feel peaceful and it is very serene.”
Lynn Carter, also from St. Rose of Lima has helped bring the pilgrimage to the two parishes for the past three years. She said, “It was one of the most spiritual events in my life.” Carter, who has also been to Lourdes said, “What they brought to us and to people who can’t go is Lourdes. I felt closer to the Blessed Mother. It made an impact on my life.”