By Emilie Adams, Clarion Herald Guest Column
There is a city in France, called Lourdes, and it truly is a life-changing place.
For those who don’t know, Lourdes is the place where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.
Where she appeared is now the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, and it is open to people from all over the world.
During a month-long trip to Europe, I was fortunate enough to join a Salesian college on their annual pilgrimage to Lourdes.
While the journey to the city was interesting (a 26-hour bus ride is never fun), it was more than worth it.
Once we arrived at our hotel, we had a free day to explore the area. A friend and I made our way to see the shrine, only a five-minute walk from the hotel.
To say the sight was breathtaking would be an understatement. It was so easy to fall in love with Lourdes. Everywhere was gorgeous architecture, with large areas to relax and pray and a river that flowed throughout the city.
After hours of exploring, it was nearing the end of our first day. Then, the actual fun would begin.
One of the reasons for the trip, in addition to seeing Lourdes, was to help a few elderly people from the Killaloe group in Ireland. We met them on the second day and stayed with them through the week. We were tasked with moving them to the different sites we would be visiting. It made for quite the workout. While we were pushing and pulling them in these chariot-like contraptions, it allowed me to talk to the pilgrims, among the sweetest people I had ever met.
I enjoyed learning about their lives, and they absolutely loved my American accent. They constantly asked questions about my own life.
By week’s end, they were insisting that I take a trip to Killaloe the next time I visit.
I know now that Killaloe will have a high spot on my “places to visit” bucket list.
All too quickly the week was over. I, the ever-emotional mess, cried quite a bit on the last day. Not only did we say goodbye to our lovely pilgrims, we said goodbye to Lourdes.
I had no idea that a place could feel like home in only a week, but Lourdes somehow managed to be just that: a home. Being in a place filled with people from around the globe who all share a love for God, it’s not hard to feel that way.
Everywhere I went, everyone had smiles on their faces. You could experience their happiness just being there.
Even though the majority were strangers, they became family.
While it was very hard to say goodbye, I knew I would be back again.
After all, everyone goes back home eventually.
Emilie Adams is a senior at the Academy of Our Lady in Marrero.