LOURDES, France (CNS): Sharing the physical weakness of thousands of his fellow pilgrims at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Pope John Paul II prayed for comfort for those who suffer, for the protection of every human life and for peace in the world.
Although he was fine for most of the August 14-15 pilgrimage, his initial visit of the weekend to the Massabielle grotto, where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St Bernadette Soubirous, was emotional and difficult.
Pushed in his wheeled throne to the grotto and helped to his knees, the Pope was able to stay erect for less than a minute. He began to slump over, and his private secretaries came to his assistance, lifting him back
into his chair.
In his homily on August 15, the feast of Mary’s Assumption into heaven, Pope John Paul asked others, especially women, for signs of faith and courage.
Pope John Paul told the crowd estimated at 250,000 people, that “life is a sacred gift, and no one can presume to be its master.”
The Pope, like most people who make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, also turned up for the customary 9pm procession in the town in the French Pyrenees.