Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Volunteer at Lourdes

I'm all in favour of combining volunteering with travel, but only recently learned that it is possible to volunteer at the Christian pilgrimage site at Lourdes, France. I discovered this by reading a very interesting book by Jo Marchant called "Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind and Body."

There is an organisation that organises North Americans who wish to volunteer at the famous shrine in southwestern France that attracts thousands of pilgrims every year, particularly very ill ones. Lourdes even has a medical office that documents the many cures that have been claimed by pilgrims. It is a place where a young woman named Bernadette de Soubirous experienced many visions of the Virgin Mary in the 19th century.

The North American group is called and operates out of Syracuse, NY. Volunteering there isn`t cheap, with a $1,000 deposit required in addition to air fare. However, according to Marchant`s book, the atmosphere of love that pervades the shrine might make it worthwhile, whether or not you are Christian. Marchant herself is agnostic, and a scientist. Volunteers stay in a special dormitory where they share double rooms and baths.

I recall driving near Lourdes, which is`beautifully situated in the Pyrenees, many years ago and noticing the heavy traffic. I didnt stop then, but the idea of going as a volunteer is appealing.

Incidentally, this is my 800th blog post over a period of nearly 10 years. Thanks for reading.


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