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Why you should take your kids with you on a pilgrimage



Josephine McCaul - published on 07/17/23

Take inspiration from 'The Miracle Club' this summer and give your children the experience of a lifetime.

With the release of The Miracle Club last week, the pilgrimage site of Lourdes has garnered much attention in Hollywood and beyond.

For those who are not religious the movie has given them a little idea of how and why the site of a major Marian apparition in France is so meaningful to Catholics around the world — in fact it welcomes an incredible 5 million pilgrims a year.

The film also provides a great reminder for Catholics on the importance of going on a pilgrimageeven if it’s to a site that is more local — at least once in your life. And better still, to make sure you go with your kids.

Here’s why:

I grew up in a household with eight siblings. I was bang in the middle and watched my older sisters go off on various retreats and pilgrimages while I stayed at home with my little brothers and sisters.

A bus to Lourdes

I can distinctly remember the day my two older sisters both headed off on the school bus to Lourdes. We lived in London, and it was the first time my siblings had gone on a trip abroad — our previous trips back “home” to Ireland did not count, apparently.

The girls were excited and had packed their “Sunday Best” for when they reached Lourdes. I have a memory of my mother’s careful instructions to my sisters to ensure they were dressed correctly and respectfully while they were away.

I was very little at the time, but the one thing I can picture is the look on my sisters’ faces when they returned home safe and sound. They both had in their hands plastic statues of the Virgin Mary filled with holy water to give my mother.

Lourdes souvenir shop
Inside a souvenir shop at Lourdes.

Now having these statues in the house was almost as if we’d had a brick from the shrine itself at home. Nobody was allowed to touch them.

(Slight confession: I distinctly remember my older brother opening up a statue and accidentally pouring some of the holy water onto the floor. His remedy was to fill it back up with tap water, where it remained filled to the brim for many years.)

These statues were given due reverence for many years while we were growing up. It was only when their contents started to go green with algae that the statues were relegated to a cupboard.

Memories and regrets

When my parents moved out of the home many decades later, I came across the aging plastic statues and all those memories came flooding back. My sisters had gone to where Our Lady had appeared and I hadn’t, and that was a shame.

While I can’t remember what they had shared about the experience, or how they had felt, I do know that they had felt that they’d brought a little bit of Mary back to our home. And how lovely it must have been for them to offer this to our family.

So, if you are looking to go on a pilgrimage, please make sure to take your kids with you. And most certainly, if there are any little souvenirs you can bring back, let the kids buy them and bring a little spirit of the shrine you’ve visited into your family home.

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