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With the theme, “Virgin of Lourdes, watch over our country and bring us to Jesus”, the annual shrine novena began on Thursday, February 2, in preparation of the 159th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance to Bernardette Soubirous.
On Saturday, February 4, about 50 singers gathered at the shrine to mark the 40th Vigil of “Singing God’s Praises”, a celebration that has given thousands of people an opportunity to know, appreciate, and understand this beautiful tradition that has provided an effective evangelization of the Central Region of Chile, although its effects have been felt from north to south of the country.
Fr. Julio Navarro, former vicar general of the Assumptionists now residing in Santiago, presided at the Eucharist for this group of singers and in his homily pointed out, “You have come to sing to the Virgin not in your name only, but in the name of your families, your neighbors and friends. In fact, you come to the Virgin in the name of the entire People of God in Chile, in the name of the whole Church. You represent many --- all those who have a devotion to the Virgin”
In many of the songs sung that night in the grotto, one could hear prayers for the well-being of the country, and especially for those who are being so adversely affected by forest fires.
On Sunday, February 5, there was held the annual pilgrimage of sacred dancers who have been coming to the basilica for the last 23 years under the aegis of AMBAR (Asociación Metropolitana de Bailes Religiosos/Metropolitan Organization of Sacred Dance).
Saturday, February 11, the actual feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the shrine doors will open at 6:30 AM. The first Mass will be celebrated at 7 AM and Masses will follow regularly until noon. Between 1 PM and 5 PM there will be activities for children, recitation of the rosary, and short talks at the grotto.
Beginning at 5 PM there will be Mass hourly until 8 PM when a closing Mass will be celebrated followed by the traditional candlelight procession throughout the neighborhood.
There will also be, from 9 AM to 4 PM, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in an outdoor chapel. Assumptionist priests and brothers together with many generous volunteers will be available throughout the day at your service. We invite all Catholics and individuals of goodwill to come to the shrine, a place of peace, prayer, and culture. Lourdes is a spiritual lung for Chile.
Br. Ramón Gutiérrez, a. a.