How much does it cost to come on the Pilgrimage?
The cost of the pilgrimage is decided in December each year once we know the accommodation and transport costs and is listed on the application form. Financial help is normally available to Assisted Pilgrims, Nurses, Helpers, Redshirts, and families that need it. If in doubt, please email the pilgrimage office who will be happy to help you.
How do I pay for my pilgrimage?
There are a number of ways to pay for the pilgrimage, including payment by instalment. Payment options will be included with your invoice. Please note that we cannot take card payments over the telephone.Payment by instalment is possible year-round, if you wish to set up a direct debit with your bank we ask that you use the reference of your surname and the year you are making instalments towards i.e. 'Moth 2024'
When do I have to pay my deposit?
A £100 non-refundable deposit should be paid once you have received an invoice from us. You will receive information explaining the pilgrimage terms and conditions with this invoice. The deposit would become refundable should the pilgrimage for any reason make the decision they are unable to take you to Lourdes (this is very rare!)
Do you offer any discounts or financial assistance?
Discounts are given to children who are under the age of 14 by August 31 in the year of travel. A Subsidy is available for all Hospitalité (Redshirts, Helpers, Doctors, Nurses, Chaplains and Leaders) who request it, with a reduced subsidy if you are travelling independently. Please see the application form for more details. We recommend talking to your parish priest if you need help paying for the pilgrimage. There may be support available from your parish or from local charities such as the Knights of St Columba or the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP). Those aged 16-25 may be able to apply to the national group of Catenians for financial support Further details for all discounts and subsidies are published application form.
I’ve been told I need a Medical Assessment?
It is important that our Clinical Leadership Team understand the medical and care needs of our pilgrims, so that they can best assist them during the journey to Lourdes and throughout the pilgrimage.
Can I join in with Pilgrimage events if I am in Lourdes but not booked on the pilgrimage?
Safeguarding is an important part of our risk management whilst in Lourdes, while everyone is welcome to our public Masses and services, we are unable to welcome those who are not part of our pilgrimage to any other group event or activity. We strongly encourage you to book with us if you would like the complete diocesan pilgrimage experience.
Will I receive training for my role in Lourdes?
It is mandatory for all Young Helpers (Year 12), New Helpers and first-time Nurses and Doctors to attend the New Helpers Preparation Day to receive essential training and information. All Young Helpers, Helpers, Doctors and Nurses must attend the Briefing Day prior to the pilgrimage. Our Redshirts and Redshirt Leaders also have a number of events in the UK that they are expected to attend. New Pilgrims are warmly invited to an information session where they will have the opportunity to ask questions and meet other new pilgrims. Please click on the Dates & Events button below for details of future training.
Will I need my own travel insurance?
UK residents are included in our group travel insurance policy with the cost included in the price of the pilgrimage from the point of joining the pilgrimage. A copy of the policy will be sent to you once you have paid your initial deposit. As are requirement for our insurance, Pilgrims with pre-existing health conditions need verbal confirmation of their fitness to fly from their doctor (GP/Specialist), it should be recorded in your notes that this question has been answered. If you have any questions please contact us.
Do I need a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)?
Yes, the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) provides access to healthcare in the EU and is required as part of your insurance cover. You will receive details of our insurance, which covers additional healthcare in France, when you apply for the Pilgrimage.
When will I know how I am travelling?
We aim to let you know how you will be travelling to Lourdes by no later than 2 weeks before travel.
What are my travel options?
Pilgrims and families who do not require any assistance are asked to make their own travel arrangements so that we can prioritise those who need help to travel. The details needed to assist you in booking can be found on our application form. Unlike a holiday we are choosing to travel together on Pilgrimage, giving ourselves and our intentions to the Lord. Our Assisted Pilgrims and their helpers will receive priority for travel with all other pilgrims are allocated travel as suitable as possible with the remaining options; we are able to assess the travel needs of our Assisted Pilgrims once applications have closed. Travel arrangements are allocated by our Clinical Leadership Team and the Pilgrimage Office Team. If you are travelling as part of the full pilgrimage package you will be booked onto one of the following:
Overnight Coach: The Redshirts (Years 10 & 11) and Young Helpers (Year 12) and possibly some other helpers travel to Lourdes by coach departing from a central collection point in the Diocese.
Overnight Jumbulance: A small group of Assisted Pilgrims, Helpers and Clinicians travel to Lourdes in specially adapted coaches called Jumbulances, departing from a central pick up point in the Diocese. This method of travel is for those who are unable to travel by air directly to and from Lourdes..
Air: Assisted Pilgrims and their families or carers travel alongside Helpers, Doctors and Nurses on a number of different scheduled flights from Heathrow and Gatwick, with coach transfer between the French airport and their accommodation in Lourdes. We charter a flight especially for our Pilgrimage that flies direct to Lourdes airport, with coach transfer to and from the accommodation in Lourdes. A coach is provided from a central pick up point in the Diocese both to and from the UK airport for this flight only.
How do I get to the airport or pick up point?
We are unable to provide transport to airports or pick up points. When booking your pilgrimage please make sure you can arrange your own transport to and from the UK airport or pick up point.
Do I need to book Special Assistance at the Airport?
We know that travelling can be a concern for some people. If you have indicated on your application form that you need help getting through the airport, the Pilgrimage Office will make a booking with the airport’s Special Assistance Service for you if you are booked onto one of our flights. In addition to the airport’s Special Assistance Service a pilgrimage volunteer will act as 'flight leader' and will be available near the check-in desk to make sure that you have the help you need. Where possible, one of our Helpers will accompany you through the airport. If you have booked your own independent travel you are responsible for booking your own airport assistance.
Will I sit with my family on the flight?
We do our best! We notify airlines in advance if there are family members with different surnames though the final allocation lies with the airline. You will be advised of your seat number(s) when you check in.
Can I bring food/drink for the journey?
Coaches/Jumbulance: Food and non-alcoholic drinks are permitted and will be needed for the over night journey.
Flights: You can carry food/snacks in your hand luggage. Please check with the airline direct for specific rules. If you are carrying liquid or gels in your hand luggage, please ensure that the size of container does not exceed 100ml, regardless of the amount contained inside. Do also consider snacks should your flight be delayed, especially if you have a clinical requirement such as diabetes or needing to have food at the time of medication. Please check the airport's guidance for specific items such as medication, baby milk or food. Full details of the requirements for your travel will be sent to you as part of your final information pack.
How much luggage can I bring with me to Lourdes?
Full details will be included in your final travel instructions. Most of our Pilgrims travel by scheduled airlines; a rough guide would be one small carry-on bag plus one checked bag of less than 24kg. People wishing to bring other items such as push chairs should review the airline’s policy before travel. People traveling with more then 1 piece of hand luggage and 1 suitcase may be charged by the airline for extra luggage.
Can I bring back Lourdes water?
Liquids over 100ml cannot be taken into the cabin of an aircraft. Anything else can be checked in as part of your baggage allowance. Please note that should you exceed your baggage allowance you will be charged personally by the airline who also have the right to decline any additional luggage. We also recommend checking that the bottle will not leak under the change of air pressure on a flight.
Can I bring my own manual wheelchair?
We can provide a manual wheelchair for anyone who needs one in Lourdes. It may be possible to bring your own manual wheelchair if it is specially adapted for your needs. Please include details of your chair on your application form and we will contact you directly.
Can I bring my own electric wheelchair/scooter?
It may be possible to transport your electric wheelchair to Lourdes if it is essential or has been specially adapted for your needs. Please include the make and model on your application form so that we can discuss this option with you. It is possible to hire an electric scooter in Lourdes if you regularly use one at home; our Clinical Team can explore the available options with you.
Can I bring specialist equipment/bulky items?
Items such as raised toilet seats and shower matts can be provided in Lourdes; we may be able to transport larger clinical items or musical instruments though space is limited. You must let us know your requirements in advance by contacting the Pilgrimage Office. We are no longer able to transport equipment, such as push chairs for children etc.
Where will I be staying?
We stay in a number of hotels which are close to one another and within 5–15 minutes walking distance of the Grotto, the heart of the Lourdes Sanctuary. People who need additional care such as hoisting, or require significant help with personal care stay in the Accueil Notre Dame where specially adapted accommodation is available in the heart of the Sanctuary. This type of accommodation has Clinicians and Helpers available 24 hours a day on a waking rota. If you are travelling as part of a family with young children, you will stay in the same hotel as other families. Your programme for the week will be family-orientated and vary slightly from the main pilgrimage. It’s great fun for children!
When will I know which hotel and group I will be in?
An information pack is sent to each of our pilgrims during the first week of July; it includes details of your travel and accommodation with joining instructions and luggage labels. Groups are allocated by the needs of assisted pilgrims and their helpers, while we try to meet people's individual requests, we cannot guarantee this.
Can I choose where I stay and who I am in a group with?
While we do try to take people’s preferences into consideration, we must consider all our pilgrims and allocate appropriately to their needs giving priority to our Assisted Pilgrims and those who care for them..
Can I book a single room?
The number of single rooms is limited - hotels also charge a single room fee which you will have to pay. Priority for single rooms is given to the clergy and our assisted pilgrims. If we are unable to book a single room for you, we will contact you and refund any single room payment made.
Who will I share a room with?
You can indicate who you would prefer to share a room with, on your application form. Married couples or families with young children will be given rooms together. Everyone else will be allocated a shared room with someone of the same sex and of a similar age.
When do I check out of my hotel room?
As with most hotels, check out is by 10am however as we have a closing mass on the last morning the reality is that we must check out of our hotel rooms between breakfast and leaving the hotel for mass. Luggage will be securely left in the hotels baggage room. If you are travelling on one of our flights and it departs in the afternoon/evening the cost of lunch on the travel day will have been included into your booking price. All those who book their own transport will have a final meal of breakfast at your hotel.
What is a Hotel Group?
Hotel Groups are small communities of fellow pilgrims. Each Hotel Group takes part in ‘whole pilgrimage’ events as well as activities involving just their group. Each group is supported by a Hotel Leadership Team made up of two Leaders (one male, one female) a Deputy Leader, Nurses, a Doctor, a Chaplain and female Assistant Chaplain. This team guides their group through the various events of the week, assisting pilgrims if they have any concerns or difficulties.
Do I need to buy food or drinks in Lourdes?
All accommodation is full board which means that breakfast, lunch and dinner. You will only receive hot drinks with breakfast. You can purchase additional drinks from your hotels or the many cafés and shops in Lourdes. Personal water bottles can be refilled in hotels or directly from taps in the Sanctuary, free of charge.
I have special dietary requirements: do I need to bring my own food?
The hotels we use cater for special dietary requirements. If you have indicated this on your application form or medical assessment we will notify the hotel in advance for you. You can bring additional snacks or food for your journey if required and there are a number of supermarkets in Lourdes that you can also visit. If you are travelling on one of our flights and it departs in the afternoon or evening the cost of lunch on the travel day will have been included into your booking price. All those who book their own transport will have the first meal (supper) and the final meal (breakfast). If you are travelling on the Jumbulance or overnight coach a packed supper will be provided for your return journey.
What is the weather like in Lourdes?
While we hope the weather will be warm and dry we know that it can be very changeable, we recommend packing clothing that can be layered to suit the warmer days and cooler evenings plus a rain coat just in case.
How will I know what is going on during the week?
Your Leadership Team will let you know the programme for the week. On your arrival in Lourdes you will be given a Pilgrimage Handbook which sets out our programme for the week and includes details of events you may wish to take part in. You should bring your Handbook to every Mass and refer to it for information on:
- The story of Bernadette
- The Marian Torchlight Procession
- The Blessed Sacrament Procession
- Mass with anointing of the Sick
- The Water Gesture at the Baths
- The Sacrament of Reconciliation
It is important to remember that you don’t have to do everything on our pilgrimage programme, particularly if you have a medical condition or are elderly or frail. Be sensible and don’t become exhausted!
What other ways can I get involved in Lourdes?
Music: Our choir and musicians are very active during our week in Lourdes. We hold a music rehearsal in the UK before the pilgrimage. Everyone is invited to join the music group and attend the rehearsal. Please make sure you have appropriate insurance if you are bringing a musical instrument with you as this will not be covered by our travel insurance.
Technical Support for our music group: our technician is always grateful to those who help with our sound equipment and loop services. You need to be fit enough to help lift equipment and work at a safe but fast pace.
Serving at Mass: if you are an altar server in your parish and would like to serve in Lourdes please include this on your application form - you will need to bring your own alb.
Reading at Mass: please include a wish to read on your application form. There are a finite number of opportunities to read so please do not be disappointed if you are not able to read this year.
Sign language: a number of pilgrims volunteer as communicators to sign Mass in Lourdes for those who are deaf or hard of hearing; they are not usually professional communicators but provide service to each other. If you can sign and would like to help, please let us know in the skills and abilities section of our application form.
What should I do if I am worried about someone on the pilgrimage?
The Diocese of Arundel and Brighton is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults. There is a clear expectation that all those travelling on the pilgrimage share this commitment. All pilgrims will receive information and contact details on how to raise their concerns during our week in Lourdes. If you are unsure please speak to a member of your Hotel Group’s Leadership Team or the Pilgrimage Core Team who will be able to advise you of our escalation procedures.
What do I do if I am unwell in Lourdes?
Our Doctors and Nurses will support you with existing UK treatment plans; if you fall ill outside of any plan or diagnosis they will help you to contact local healthcare providers. If necessary, you can contact the emergency services directly. If you are unwell we ask you let the clinicians in your group know.
What should I take with me?
Passport: please check that your passport is valid. On the day of travel your passport must have at least 3 months left on it and be less than 10 years old, even if it has 3 months or more left on it.
The UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) lets you get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. When you apply for the Pilgrimage you will receive details of our insurance which covers healthcare in France.
Medication: if you are on any medication make sure you take at least two weeks' supply. Bring a small personal first aid kit – our medical team cannot supply plasters or paracetamol (etc) unless you are in the Redshirt group. Redshirts should follow the guidance agreed with their parents or carers before the trip.
Money: our hotels provide three meals a day, money is only needed for visits to cafés, items you might want to buy or excursions you might like to make. There is a collection to support the upkeep and work of the Sanctuary during one of the Masses so you may wish to budget for this also.
Clothing: Sufficient clothing for a week away, i.e. more than one change of clothes. Accidents happen or getting caught in the rain may mean we need to change during the day and hotels do not offer laundry service.
Helpers, Young Helpers, Redshirts & Nurses: a uniform dress code will be sent to you. We ask all on the pilgrimage to dress appropriately for a pilgrimage, where going to Mass is a daily activity.
Shoes: there is quite a lot of walking and standing around during our time in Lourdes. Comfortable footwear is essential, Lourdes is not the place to break in new shoes!
Clothing: Lourdes can be very hot during the day so please bring suncream and a hat. Comfortable, light-weight clothing which can be layered is ideal to be comfortable during the warm day and cooler nights. Pilgrims are asked to cover shoulders and midriffs in the Sanctuary, shorts and skirts should be at least knee-length. Remember that you will be attending mass each day and should be dressed appropriately. When it rains in Lourdes it can be anything from a light drizzle to a torrential downpour; a waterproof jacket is essential.
How can I buy copies of the CDs produced by the Pilgrimage Choir? CDs can be purchased from one of our team in Lourdes. If you wish to purchase a CD before or after our trip please contact the Pilgrimage Office.
How can I stay involved with the pilgrimage once we return to the UK?
There are lots of ways you can remain involved with our pilgrimage in the UK. We hold a pilgrimage Reunion Mass each year. Details of the date and venue can be found in your handbook or in the Events section of this website. We also host a Hotel Group Reunion organised after the pilgrimage by our leadership team.
Our Prayer Network is a great way to connect with members of our pilgrimage family, allowing pilgrims to continue praying for one another throughout the year. If you would like to join us please E: firstname.lastname@example.org . We also have an annual parish collection organised by parish representatives to raise funds which enable people to travel to Lourdes. If you would like to become a parish rep, please contact the Pilgrimage Office who will be happy to help; E: email@example.com.
Pilgrim is someone who requires no additional assistance and is not joining the pilgrimage as a member of the Hospitalité. An Assisted Pilgrim is someone who needs some degree of assistance – this might be someone to push their wheelchair through to someone requiring 24 hour care.
A Helper is someone aged 18+ who is registered and DBS checked for their role in Lourdes.
Young Helper: someone in school Year 12 or equivalent.
Orangeshirts are primary-aged children who have made their First Holy Communion, usually those in years 3,4, and 5.
Greenshirts are young people in years 6, 7, 8 or 9 of secondary school.
Redshirts are students in school years 10 or 11.
Yellowshirts are prayer pilgrims who are unable to be official Helpers but have skills to offer. They work with our support services.
Support Services – A variety of roles to support the activities of the Pilgrimage while in Lourdes, e.g. Outside Events, Music Team, Catering Team.
Chaplain - a Priest or Deacon.
Our Assistant Chaplains are female, they have experience of chaplaincy, often in a school, hospital, hospice or prison setting.
The Accueil is a place of welcome where accommodation is offered within the Sanctuary to pilgrims with higher physical and/or 24 hour care needs stay.
The Domaine or Sanctuary is the main area around the Grotto in Lourdes where the churches, chapels, baths, candle banks and the Accueil are located.
High Stations are the Stations of the Cross which wind up the hill behind the Domaine. Completed in 1912 and located on the Hill of Espélugues. The hill is steep with pilgrims requiring a level of fitness to walk up it, this way of the cross is 1,500 metres long with 115 figures made of cast iron and painted gold. Each morning one of the pilgrimage chaplains will lead a group round these stations beginning at 6.15am.
The Virgin Mary asked Bernadette Soubirous to ‘Go and drink at the Spring and wash yourself there’ on 25th February 1858. Lourdes Water is not holy water, it is normal water, it has no thermal virtue or specific property. Bernadette herself said: ‘This water is being taken as medicine… One must have faith, one must pray: this water would have no virtue without faith!’ There are water stations in the Sanctuary where you can fill your water bottle or run your hands through the water at Lourdes.
The baths are a unique place where pilgrims used to be immersed in the waters of the spring that flows in the Grotto of the apparitions. Today, pilgrims are offered a water gesture, the opportunity to engage with the spring water by washing our hands and face. You can attend the baths for this water gesture on your own or with family or friends bringing your prayer intentions to Our Lady.