By Carol Glatz
A statue of Our Lady of Lourdes facing the Rosary Basilica in Lourdes, France. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
LOURDES, France — Love comes in many sizes, and here in Lourdes, it’s everywhere — big and small.
From the huge Rosary Basilica perched over the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes to the small gestures of kindness from residents, volunteers and pilgrims.
Those who are sick, elderly or struggling with difficulties find compassion and care, and special lanes are dedicated just to those in wheelchairs.
As I watched dozens of people being wheeled along the busy streets in the village or the quiet lanes near the sanctuary, what struck me was how all of them had colorful hand-knit or croqueted blankets draped across their legs, around their shoulders or tucked behind them.
Pilgrims needing assistance find compassion and care, as well as handmade blankets from volunteers. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
I wondered how could it be all these visitors were expert knitters or had loved-ones making them such nice wrappings to bring on their pilgrimage?
Carla Zanoner, a volunteer from the Trentino region in Italy, shows off a handmade blanket loaned to pilgrims visiting Lourdes. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
Turns out volunteers make the blankets of every style and color to help stave off the chill from the cool mountain air.
Carla Zanoner, a volunteer from Trentino, Itay, showed off some of the blankets they loan out while people are in Lourdes.
“When we pick people up at the train station, lots of times it’s cold or it’s raining, so this helps them keep warm,” she told me. “They get here exhausted. One group from Sicily spent two and a half days on the train,” and volunteers are there to meet them after what is often a very long journey to get to this small town in southern France near the Pyrenees.
Carla, who was working at the shrine’s “lost and found” center May 16, says she comes to Lourdes 10 days a year, every year, to help out. “Pilgrims find strength and energy here and so do we” by helping them. “We get a boost and we head home renewed,” she said.
This weekend was dedicated to an international pilgrimage of military men and women, and their families.
Representatives of the Knights of Columbus lead a procession of wounded U.S. soldiers to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
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