St. Bernadette’s Relics Tour the United States

Holy remains will be venerated at more than 30 churches and shrines, including EWTN, through August.

St. Bernadette’s relics, which include part of her rib, are contained in a large reliquary, as shown at Lourdes, France.
St. Bernadette’s relics, which include part of her rib, are contained in a large reliquary, as shown at Lourdes, France. (photo: Courtesy of the North American Lourdes Volunteers)

For the first time, the relics of St. Bernadette Soubirous have come from Lourdes, France, to tour the United States. Her relics will be available for veneration at more than 30 churches and shrines from East Coast to West Coast, from North to South and environs in between. 

On this U.S. pilgrimage, St. Bernadette’s relics, which include part of her rib, are contained in a large reliquary crafted by master craftsmen of religious artistry at Maison Granda workshop in Spain in 2019. 

“Our Lady told Bernadette, go and tell the priests to build a chapel here, and that people should come here in procession and wash and clean,” Msgr. Kenneth Schwanger, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Miami and chairman of the parish-based Hospitalité de Miami, one of the tour’s sponsors, told the Register. “That was her mission to Lourdes — eventually to the world. After she finished that, Bernadette said, ‘I’m like a broom; put me in the closet.’ Now, Our Lady says: Come … and go to America to bring the same message to the people there. Bring the grace of Lourdes to people across the country.”

The tour of Bernadette’s relics began on April 7 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Miami, which also has a grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. The tour will continue with cross-country stops through Aug. 4, with the last stop at St. Bernadette Church in Los Angeles. (See below for complete tour schedule.)

On April 30, St. Bernadette’s holy remains will be displayed at the EWTN Chapel in Irondale, Alabama. The televised 8am Eastern Mass will be a votive Mass of St. Bernadette. The network will also air a Rosary at 9am Eastern. It will incorporate meditations related to the French mystic, and veneration of her relics, followed by a healing service later in the day, where the faithful will be able to receive water and touch a rock from the Lourdes Grotto, and attend a “virtual” pilgrimage.

At stops along the pilgrimage tour, people will also be able to drink and wash in the water from Massabielle, the grotto where Mary appeared to Bernadette in February 1858, and take part in Marian candlelight processions together with the relics.

“Come and drink and wash in the water,” said Msgr. Schwanger, adding that God uses water often as an instrument of his healing grace. “Come to Christ, the healing water that flows from the temple of God. This is a great moment for Bernadette, who comes to America” for healing body, mind and relationships, which is needed “especially in today’s conditions.”

Msgr. Schwanger had a primary role in initiating and organizing this tour, calling parishes around the country named after of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette to discuss the possibility. As bishops’ permissions fell into place, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France organized the pilgrimage in partnership with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Hospitalité de Miami, North American Lourdes Volunteers based in Syracuse, New York, and the Order of Malta.

“We’re hoping that as many people as possible can receive those graces,” Pam Barton, a board member of the North American Lourdes Volunteers and the organization’s Lourdes virtual-pilgrimage director, told the Register. “And we hope they will get to know St. Bernadette and that they all would also hope in her example that they can become saints. We’re always under Our Lady’s gaze. Wherever we go, she is always near to us, and people can take hope and comfort from that.”

Teresa Lewis, the North American Lourdes Volunteers board vice president, pointed out that many of the host sites will also offer a virtual pilgrimage experience. These are not done on a computer, but with a “live” guide from the North American Lourdes Volunteers, likely Barton herself. 

Lewis explained, “It is a spiritual journey where we connect to Bernadette’s story and with the grotto and our story. They are all connected on the screen and in person. We bring actual pieces of the grotto rock from Lourdes, where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette, and people can touch it. We bring Lourdes water.”

“We understand not everyone can come to Lourdes,” Barton added, “so we provide that Lourdes experience to parishes, schools, prisons. Our guides and missionaries go far and wide to share the message of Lourdes.”

Msgr. Schwanger predicts this tour “is going to be a moment for us to experience that healing grace to touch all of us here in America.” He knows firsthand what the pilgrimage experience brings to those who help the sick. “You see the youth, naturally, in full action, the whole Church together serving the sick. It is a joyful experience that you bring home to your family, parish, diocese and the country.” 

“Mary says: Bring Bernadette to us,” Msgr. Schwanger told the Register. “This is going to help unpack that grace of Lourdes in the United States for us. And it will also help to bring others to go to Lourdes on pilgrimage.”

Father Joseph Wolfe of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word traveled in 2019 with EWTN employee chaplain Father John Paul Zeller, also of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, to Lourdes to film a five-part series for EWTN. He described to the Register how the afternoon Eucharistic processions at Lourdes conclude in the large Basilica of St. Pius X. There, the priests bless the sick, including those in wheelchairs, and all the infirm who are gathered. With the monstrance, they bless the faithful in all directions.

Father Wolfe said, “People don’t realize a lot of the miracles of Lourdes happen through the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament.”

“One of the things important to Mother Angelica is that she knew we all have woundedness. We’re all broken people,” he explained, referring to the foundress of EWTN. Shortly after he was ordained, Mother Angelica asked him to hold healing services. They were, and today remain, “all based on what happened at Lourdes and what was happening at Lourdes. They were all Eucharistic.”

In 2003, after her cerebral hemorrhage, Mother Angelica herself went to Lourdes in search of a miracle. In his book Mother Angelica, EWTN host and author Raymond Arroyo described her time there. While she did not regain her speech ability, she came away with a “miracle” of understanding as she helped a child with Down syndrome. 

“Lourdes,” he wrote, “had distilled the essence of Mother’s mission: to bring hope to the forgotten through personal suffering. She discovered she was still needed, still wanted, and could do much good, even in silence. She understood what she hadn’t understood before.”

Father Wolfe recalled to the Register, “So, through Mother Angelica, we instituted these Eucharistic healing services where people are blessed with the Blessed Sacrament. Generally, groups coming want those healing services. So there is some connection with Lourdes — and with the relics.”

Speaking of relics, Father Wolfe related how, during an earlier tour of other saintly relics at EWTN — those of St. Mary of Jesus Crucified — one of the EWTN employees who was having many throat problems was healed by praying before these relics.

Barton described how, when arrangements were being made with the Lourdes sanctuary, the request was made that the relics come not only to the large cathedrals but also to the “Little Bernadettes,” the little churches.

However large the church or small the chapel, Msgr. Schwanger underscored the purpose. He commented in a local venue that St. Bernadette also “continues to be a vehicle through which Mary points the way to her Son, Jesus Christ, through this relics tour. It’s an affirmation that the Lord attends to everyone, and everyone has an opportunity to be healed and, in turn, to bring healing and peace to the world.”

Barton is of the same mind. “Our Lady always leads us to her Son, Jesus. We pray that through the prayers of Our Lady and by the example of Bernadette, when people come to venerate these relics and participate in the pilgrimage program, it would draw them closer to Jesus.”

In addition, the Vatican is granting a plenary indulgence for those visiting the relics on the tour, provided the usual criteria are met.

In a video message about the tour, Msgr. Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, rector of the Sanctuary of Lourdes, emphasized: “It is this little Bernadette who is coming to you in this pilgrimage of her relics … in her simplicity, in her joy, is coming to join you, to invite you to pray to the Virgin Mary in complete trust, to renew your confidence in the one who came as the handmaid of the Lord.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the outlying areas to make a pilgrimage, to gather a group from your parish, and go to the church where the relics are,” said Lewis. “It’s a beautiful grace for all of us. It’s really a pilgrimage of mercy. All the little ones in most need of God’s mercy receive those graces. And Bernadette bears to that — that God cares for the least among us.”

 

 

TOUR STOPS

See more details at StBernadetteUSA.org

The full list of stops on the 2022 U.S. tour:

April 7, April 9-17

Our Lady of Lourdes

11291 SW 142nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33186

(305) 386-4121

April 8

St. Bernadette Church

7450 Stirling Road
Hollywood, FL 33024

(954) 432-5313

April 19-21

St. Bernadette Church

350 NW California Blvd.
Port St. Lucie, FL 34986

(772) 336-9956

April 23-25

Our Lady of Lourdes

750 San Salvador Dr.
Dunedin, FL 34698

(727) 733-3606

April 26-28

Our Lady of Lourdes

501 South Coastal Hwy.
Port Wentworth, GA 31407

(912) 964-0219

April 30

EWTN Chapel

5817 Old Leeds Road
Irondale, AL 35210

(800) 447-3986

May 1

St. Paul's Cathedral

2120 3rd Ave. N
Birmingham, AL 35203

(205) 251-1279

May 2-4

Holy Spirit Catholic Church

4465 Northside Dr. NW
Atlanta, GA 30303

(404) 252-4513

May 5-8

Our Lady of Lourdes

915 Mathis Road
Greenwood, SC 29649

(864) 223-8410

May 9-11

St. Bernadette

2085 Hwy. 105 S
Linville, NC 28646

(828) 898-6900

May 12-16

Cathedral of Mary Our Queen

5200 N Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21210

(410) 464-4000

May 17

Our Lady of Lourdes

233 North Main St.
Milltown, NJ 08850

(732) 828-0011

May 19-20

St. Francis of Assissi Cathedral

32 Elm Ave.
Metuchen, NJ 08840

(732) 548-0100

May 21-May 24

Our Lady of Lourdes

472 W 142nd St.
New York, NY 10031

(212) 862-4380

May 25-28

Our Lady of Lourdes

20 River Road
Pittsfield, NH 03263

(603) 435-6242

May 29-31

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

259 E Onondaga St.
Syracuse, NY 13202

(315) 422-4177

June 2-4

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church

300 E. Highland Ave.
Ada, OH 45810

(419) 634-2626

June 4-7

St. Bernadette Church

1343 Wheeling Road
Lancaster, OH 43130

(740) 654-1893

June 8-9

St. Bernadette

1479 Locust Lake Road
Amelia, OH 45102

(513) 753-5566

June 10

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church

3450 Lumardo Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45238

(513) 922-0715

June 12-14

St. Bernadette

2331 E. Lourdes Dr.
Appleton, WI 54915

(920) 739-4157

June 14-16

The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help

4047 Chapel Dr.
New Franken, WI 54229

(920) 866-2571

June 18-20

Pro-Cathedral of St. Mary

806 E Broadway Ave.
Bismarck, ND 58501

(701) 223-5562

June 22-24

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church

409 13th St. S
Great Falls, MT 59405

(406) 452-6464

June 26-28

Our Lady of Lourdes

2200 South Logan St.
Denver, CO 80210

(303) 519-5456

June 30-July 3

St. Michael the Archangel Parish

14251 Nall Ave.
Leawood, KS 66224

(913) 371-0840

July 4- 6

Our Lady of Lourdes

109 E. 9th St.
Pittsburg, KS 66762

(620) 231-2135

July 8-10

Basilica of St. Louis, King of France

209 Walnut St.
St. Louis, MO 63102

(314) 231-3250

July 12-14

Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

515 Cathedral St.
Lafayette, LA 70501

(337) 232-1322

July 16-18

Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham

7809 Shadyvilla Ln.
Houston, TX 77055

(713) 683-9407

July 20-22

Our Lady of Lourdes

108 NW 4th Ave.
Mineral Wells, TX 76067

(940) 325-4789

July 24-26

Shrine of Bernadette

11509 Indian School Road NE
Albuquerque, NM 87112

(505) 298-7557

July 28-30

St. Bernadette Catholic Church

16245 N 60th St.
Scottsdale, AZ 85254

(480) 905-0221

Aug. 1-4

St. Bernadette

3825 Don Felipe Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90008

(323) 293-4877


 

Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

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