Every year, during the first weekend of May, the Order of Malta’s members and volunteers from all over the world travel to Lourdes in order to accompany the sick and disabled, pray and bathe in the holy waters.
During this pilgrimage, nearly 20.000 participants learn firsthand what belonging to the Order of Malta really means - devotion, service and fellowship.
The international pilgrimage of the Order of Malta to Notre Dame de Lourdes in France was officially established in 1958 following the 100th anniversary of the Immaculate Virgin’s apparitions to Bernadette at the Massabielle Grotto.
The true meaning of this pilgrimage is to discover the Other, his suffering through our common faith. In Lourdes, members and volunteers live their pilgrimage through the service to the Other, it is a service which reminds us all of the humility of Christ’s action in washing the feet of His disciples: a supreme sign of his teachings that nothing is of its own but that all is shared and communicated. All members of the Order are called to conform to such teachings, living by a strict philosophy: “As I have done to you, do unto others in like manner”.
Making this pilgrimage is a profound religious experience. Linked as it is with hands-on service, the pilgrimage offers unique spiritual gifts to all. Knights, Dames, and volunteers are assigned to small teams, assisting their malade each day from early morning into the evening. A doctor assists the teams and the malades in case of need. The schedule is full, but rewarding, and there is time for reflection and relaxation. In addition to being a tremendous spiritual experience, the pilgrimage can also be a very enjoyable time.
Lebanese delegations have been taking part of this pilgrimage for more than 20 years. It started in 1983 with only 5 members and 3 malades, growing every year to become nowadays a set number of 160 participants, including 25 "guests".