A Lourdes pilgrim was delighted when her idea to request a plenary indulgence for those attending a virtual pilgrimage was granted by the Vatican.

Monica Bald (main image, second from right, with some of her fellow organisers), who has been going to Lourdes for 25 years, contacted the Archdiocese last week with the request ahead of the online event which takes place from Friday 10th to Friday 17th July.

She is pictured main image, second from right, with some of the committee who have together organised the pilgrimage.

She said: "My mum was on the internet and found that a diocese in North America had been granted a similar plenary indulgence.

"I thought that if we were able to ask for that it would be something wonderful. It would also give people a bit of hope, especially for those who have been shielding or unable to get out during the Covid-19 pandemic."

Archbishop Cushley heard about Monica's idea and immediately petitioned the Holy Father's office. On Tuesday, he received a decree granting a plenary indulgence for those attending the pilgrimage (below).

Monica, a consultant physician and the pilgrimage's lead doctor since 2008, added: "We didn't really think there would be enough time to get this organised as we'd only spoken about it last Tuesday. So we're delighted and excited to share it with people in our diocese who want to come on our virtual Lourdes pilgrimage.

"I'm unaware of any other diocese in Scotland who are providing a virtual pilgrimage so hopefully this is something not only for our own Archdiocese to participate in but also all of the people in Scotland."

Plenary Indulgence

To be granted the plenary indulgence the decree states that pilgrims must

  • Attend the Lourdes Virtual Pilgrimage 2020.
  • Attend confession.
  • Receive Holy Eucharist.
  • Pray for the intentions of the Pope (usually an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be).

An indulgence is described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."(CCC 1471) 

In his petition, Archbishop Cushley said: "Since many of the faithful and the sick are disappointed not to travel to Lourdes this year, I know that such a spiritual gift from the Church would be a great consolation to them."

The Virtual Lourdes Pilgrimage 2020 takes place online from Friday 10th to Friday 17th July. Visit the group's Facebook page or website www.edinburgh-lourdes.com