Thousands visit St Bernadette relics as tour continues

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

In Middlesbrough many took the chance to go to confession, including some people who hadn’t been for more than 40 years.

Thousands visit St Bernadette relics as tour continues

The relics of St Bernadette rested for 24 hours at St Mary’s Cathedral, Middlesborough.

More than 3,000 people visited the relics of St Bernadette of Lourdes at St Mary’s Cathedral, Middlesbrough.

The relics, which have attracted large crowds throughout the country, were welcomed to Middlesbrough at noon last Sunday and the church remained open for 24 hours until their departure the following lunchtime.

Volunteers gave out 3,000 Miraculous Medals to those attending, but supplies ran out well before the end of the event because of the large number who came, including pilgrims from Bridlington, Scarborough, Whitby and York.

After leaving Middlesbrough, the relics went to Ampleforth Abbey, St Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds, St Marie’s Cathedral in Sheffield, St Peter in Chains in Doncaster, Our Lady of Lourdes and St Peter Chanel in Hull, St Bernadette in Scunthorpe and yesterday were at St Barnabas Cathedral in Nottingham. 

Today until 4pm the relics are on a private visit to Little Sisters of the Poor in Harborne, Birmingham. They then move to St Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham, where they will be from 4.30pm today until 7.30pm tomorrow. They then move to the Immaculate Conception in Bicester where they will be until 2pm on Sunday. That afternoon they go to the Cathedral Church of Our Lady Immaculate and St Thomas of Canterbury in Northampton for the next three days.

Dean of St Mary’s in Middlesbrough, Mgr Gerard Robinson, said the event went even better than expected.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the visit as the parish priest here,” he said. “I think it’s renewed and restored people’s faith, as well as giving them hope in these difficult times we live in.

“Seeing so many people come gives me hope as well. I was amazed at the number of young people who came and the prayerful way they placed their medals against the relics.

“There was a prayerful atmosphere throughout, and so many people took the chance to go to confession, including some people who hadn’t been for over 40 years.

“It’s wonderful for a priest to be part of that because it’s a huge part of the person’s life that somehow is coming together.”

Mgr Robinson thanked the volunteers who worked hard ahead of the visit and throughout the night.

Bishop of Middlesbrough Terence Drainey presided at services throughout the 24 hours.

Diocese of Middlesbrough Lourdes director Keith Tillotson, who organised the event, said it was a team effort.

“The visit was a massive success for the diocese, for our Lourdes pilgrimage and for St Mary’s Cathedral,” he said.

“We showed compassion, spirituality, friendship, commitment and professionalism throughout the visit. This was an event that will live long in the memory of many people. The many highlights included the arrival, our Mass of Anointing, night prayers by torchlight, Lourdes music and Mass and, of course, the intimate quiet times with the relics.

“The water gesture was a popular service, replicating the experience of pilgrims visiting the baths in Lourdes. It was also very special to see around 600 young people from our schools taking part. The whole visit was emotional and deeply touching. We have a fantastic Lourdes team, and it’s a privilege to work with them all.”

Mr Tillotson also thanked those who arranged the flowers, the cathedral music team and choir and the Lourdes musicians. Mgr Robinson is hoping the event will inspire more people to go to Lourdes from May 26 to June 2 2023, when the diocese will celebrate its 70th pilgrimage.

Each year, doctors and nurses and ordinary helpers care for many sick, disabled and elderly pilgrims from throughout the diocese. 

“Throughout the visit, we took the names of people who came a long for a little taste of Lourdes and now want to do their bit and become part of this amazing Lourdes experience.”

The visit was part of a national tour and is the first time the relics have come to the UK.

St Bernadette was born into a poor family in 1844. Between February 11 and July 16 1858, she saw the Virgin Mary 18 times in a series of apparitions that took place in a cave on the outskirts of Lourdes, a place now known as the Grotto.

In 1866, Bernadette left Lourdes to live out her religious vocation within the community of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers. She died in 1879 and became a saint in 1933.

For more on the tour including the full itinerary, visit the tour website. To learn more about the Middlesbrough pilgrimage, visit

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