Carmel & Lourdes

The Grotto in Lourdes is Europe's most popular site of Marian pilgrimage.


The British Province of Carmelites makes an annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, the famous Marian shrine in the French Pyrenees. In addition, Carmelite religious and laity take part in various other pilgrimages as volunteers.



Young Carmelite volunteers serving at Our Lady's Grotto in Lourdes.


Why Lourdes?

In 1858 the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady, appeared 18 times to Bernadette Soubirous, a peasant girl in the French town of Lourdes. Today Lourdes is a major centre of prayer attracting some 6 million pilgrims a year. Among those are a number of Carmelite pilgrimages, including the annual British Province pilgrimage in August.


Saint Bernadette, who received visions of Our Lady in Lourdes in 1858.


There are strong resonances between Carmelite spirituality and what is termed the 'message of Lourdes', which is essentially an echoing of the Gospel message of God's love for humanity. The final apparition of Mary to Saint Bernadette took place on 16th July, Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, when Bernadette said that Our Lady "was more beautiful than ever". Today a monastery of Carmelite nuns stands on the spot where Bernadette prayed that day. Bernadette wished to join the Carmelites but her poor health procluded this.



A Carmelite brown scapular embroidered by St. Bernadette during her years in the Lourdes Hospice (1860-66), now in a private collection in Paris.


A Carmelite friar administers the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
Lourdes is well-known as a place of spiritual, physical and mental healing.


A Carmelite assisted (sick) pilgrim enjoys a joke with a bishop in Lourdes.


A Carmelite friar having his hands blessed for service of the sick in Lourdes.


Forthcoming pilgrimages

In 2018 the Carmelites from Britain will again be joining The Catholic Association pilgrimage to Lourdes between 24th and 31st August.



The Catholic Association pilgrimage to Lourdes (2013).


The Carmelite Pilgrimage Group in Lourdes (August 2015).


Volunteering with the Carmelites in Lourdes

In addition to the annual British Carmelite pilgrimage in August, members and friends of the British Province of Carmelites volunteer in Lourdes to welcome or accompany pilgrims. At Easter a number of Carmelite friars and laity are involved in the HCPT pilgrimage for children and young adults, and every May a small group of Carmelites volunteers in the sanctuary for the Lourdes Hospitalité.


A Carmelite friar leads young people in worship at the lake in Lourdes.


Carmelite friars preparing for the Torchlight Marian Procession in Lourdes.


Other pilgrimages to Lourdes

Regular and occasional pilgrimages to Lourdes are also run by other provinces of the Carmelite Order. Two pilgrimages a year are organised by the Irish Province of Carmelites. The Discalced Carmelite friars in France hold an annual pilgrimage around the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on 16th July. Additionally, some individual Carmelite friars act as chaplains for some parish and other pilgrimage groups.


For details of non-Carmelite pilgrimages to Lourdes at other times of the year, contact Tangney Tours (UK) or Joe Walsh Tours (UK & Ireland).


Carmelite pilgrims from Britain.


Previous pilgrimages

You can read about previous Province pilgrimages to Lourdes in our Lourdes archive.


Young volunteers on the Carmelite pilgrimage to Lourdes. The shrine gives young people a wonderful opportunity to serve the sick and disabled.


Carmelite pilgrims celebrating Mass together in Lourdes.


A Carmelite young helper accompanies a pilgrim through the Grotto.


Carmelite pilgrims relax by the River Gave opposite the Grotto.


Carmelite pilgrimage to Lourdes is not a new thing! This group travelled from Britain in 1952.


Photographs in this section of the Province website appear courtesy of: Johan Bergström-Allen, T.O.C.; Richard Copsey, O.Carm.; Photo Durand; Photo Lacaze; Photo Viron.