Lourdes 2023: Join us this summer!

Join us for the annual Archdiocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, which takes place 7-14 July 2023.

Check out the below video (also on YouTube) and visit www.edinburgh-lourdes.com for all the details you need. We look forward to welcoming you!

Register YOUR interest for life-enhancing Lourdes pilgrimage

If you want to take part in a life-enhancing Pilgrimage to the holy site of Lourdes in France this summer, let the organisers know!

The Pilgrimage Committee is appealing for potential pilgrims to register their interest by filling out this online form.

Dr Monica Bald, Chief Pilgrimage Doctor, said: "We are trying to make a decision regarding our commitment to travelling to Lourdes this year.

"Rather than asking people to apply at this point, we are asking Pilgrims to ‘Express an Interest’ to help us make an informed decision.


She added: "It is impossible for us to make any travel completely risk free and we cannot guarantee a COVID-19 free Pilgrimage. However, we hope to reduce and mitigate this risk as much as possible as we learn to more forward and ‘Live with COVID’.

"Although we know that the Archdiocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage will feel very different to any previous Pilgrimages, we are confident that we will be guided by Our Lady of Lourdes in our desire to answer her call to travel in Pilgrimage.

Dr Bald's letter can be read at the Edinburgh Lourdes website, which also includes a Q&A and other details about the pilgrimage.


Event: Virtual Lourdes Pilgrimage begins Friday

The Virtual Lourdes Pilgrimage begins this Friday. The week-long event includes Talks and reflections, a virtual Walking Tour, Rosary and Stations of the Cross and more.

There will be Mass throughout the week celebrated by Fr Jeremy Milne, Fr Andrew Garden, Fr Paul Lee, Fr Alex Davie and Archbishop Cushley. You can watch it all on YouTube at bit.ly/ArchLourdes2021

Check out the full programme at www.edinburgh-lourdes.com. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

OBITUARY: Mgr Tony Duffy

The outpouring of tributes made following the death of Mgr Anthony Canon Duffy did not come as a surprise to his family.

Such is the memory of the man they said “worked, lived and breathed solely for the good of others”.

That was demonstrated in his dedication to Lourdes; he was an energetic and welcoming presence for pilgrims and attended the shrine every year, save for two occasions.

In 1975, Pope Paul VI proclaimed a Holy Year, with special indulgences granted for those who journeyed to Rome. While that meant no trip to France, he and a group of volunteers arranged a mini ‘Lourdes at Home’, taking a group of sick and disabled people down to St Andrew’s College in Drygrange. The event also saw Bishop James Monaghan attend. Mgr Duffy was prevented from attending in 2020 due to travel restrictions, following the coronavirus pandemic.

Mgr Duffy became pilgrimage director for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh in 1983, a role he continued with compassion and good humour until his death.

He would join volunteers in helping transport the ill and disabled on a jumbulance, and from 1986 to 1998 he was the chaplain to the Association of the British Lourdes Pilgrimage Hospitalites (ABLPH), a forum for the many groups involved in organising pilgrimages. He enjoyed representing the Archdiocese at its annual meetings in Lourdes each February.

The Edinburgh Hospitalité and Pilgrimage Committees said: “For the Lourdes community, the sense of loss is profound as Fr Tony was our Pilgrimage Director for many years.”

The day following his death, a candle was lit at the shrine in his memory.

Early life

Anthony Leonard Duffy was born in Edinburgh on 27 May 1947 to Harry and Lilian Duffy and was baptised at Sacred Heart Church in Lauriston.

He was an only child and grew up in a tenement in the Grassmarket area of the city, attending nearby St Ignatius Primary School in Tollcross then Holy Cross Academy. He was heavily involved in the Scouts at St Patrick’s Church in the Cowgate, and the Friday night gatherings would lead to lifelong friendships and a likely spiritual spur leading him on the path to priesthood.

One such friendship was with Fr Ian Laurenson OFM, a chaplain to the scouts. Mgr Duffy, along with fellow Edinburgh-based priest and former scout Gerry Hand, would later visit Fr Laurenson in South Africa just before his death in 2012.

Mgr Duffy left school in fifth year and found work with the Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh.

He quit this job after two years to test his vocation to the priesthood and was accepted into the seminary at St Andrew's College in 1967.

He was a good footballer and enjoyed playing for the seminary team. As a keen singer he was part of a folk group with fellow seminarians called ‘The Coblers’ who would play for local community groups throughout the Borders. As it was the ‘swinging sixties’, his mother made flower pattern ties for the group to wear while performing.

After six years of study, he was ordained by Cardinal Gordon Gray at the Sacred Heart Church in 1973.


He spent time ministering at St Patrick's in Kilsyth and had a first stint at St Cuthbert's, Slateford (1973-1979). He then served at St Paul's Edinburgh (1979-1984) followed by a year at The Sacred Heart & St Anthony (1984) in Armadale.

In 1984 he was appointed parish priest at St Mary Magdalene's in Bingham, Edinburgh, where he ministered for five years.

He served as Treasurer for the Archdiocese for over 30 years and was a canon of the Metropolitan Chapter. Until his death was parish priest at both St Cuthbert's in Slateford, which he had served since 1989, and Our Lady, Mother of the Church, in Currie, since 1998. Illness in the weeks before his death meant he had to step back from the role. In recent years he was the Catholic Church’s representative on the City of Edinburgh Council’s Education, Children and Families Committee.

He served as a chaplain for St Cuthbert’s Primary School and St Augustine’s High School for many years.

The pile of cards in his hospital room at the Western General from primary pupils demonstrated the fondness with which he was held (hospital staff said his room was “filled with love”).

Following his death, a statement from St Augustine’s said: “He was a huge presence for us and very happy to be part of our school community.

“He loved his time here, pinching chips at lunchtime, telling you your tie was on upside down and being there for us when we needed him.”

He would take part in school ski trips and is remembered for keeping company any pupils who were unable to ski.

In 1984 he drove a minibus to Rome for pupils, camping en route, when they had an audience with the Pope. A former pupil said: “He knew exactly how to handle us. He never insisted that we attend any of the services he held in his tent. I respected him so much for that.”

Another former pupil, Judith Ralston, now a BBC weather presenter, credited Mgr Duffy with helping her become an opera singer: “This lovely man was with me all the way through my formative years. He took me to my first opera, the one that inspired me to become an opera singer.” Mgr Duffy himself was no slouch when it came to singing and at one time was a member of the Archdiocesan Cathedral Choir and the Edinburgh Festival Choir.

'True vocation'

The passing of Mgr Tony will most profoundly be felt by his family. They said: “Tony was the first port of call for family baptisms, marriages and funerals. He had no time for fuss or undue ceremony, because he didn't need it, as his liturgies demonstrated.

“In the priesthood he quite literally found his true vocation; and the grace of ordination fulfilled his natural talents.

“An only child himself, he revelled in his wider family particularly his nephews and nieces as they grew to adulthood and had their own families. He was a favourite uncle, and they will miss him enormously. As do we all.”

For a man who loved social interaction and ministering to people, the pastoral constraints of lockdown, which restricted visits to care homes and closed schools, chafed with him before illness took over.

He died peacefully at the Western General in the early hours of Wednesday 12 May 2021 fortified by the rites of Holy Church. He was 73. His funeral took place at St Cuthbert’s on Tuesday 25 May and his final resting place is with his mother and father at the city’s Mount Vernon Catholic Cemetery.

With attendance restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, it meant far fewer people were at the funeral than would be expected for a man who made a profound and positive impact in the Archdiocese and in Lourdes.

Mgr Anthony Canon Duffy, 27 May 1947 – 12 May 2021



Pilgrim's delight after indulgence idea is granted by Vatican

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

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


Get online for this year's Lourdes pilgrimage!

Catholics across the Archdiocese can sample the special Lourdes experience by taking part in a virtual pilgrimage.

The innovative online idea has been organised by the Pilgrimage & Hospitalité Committees to make up for the disappointment of having to cancel the annual French trip due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for the committees said: "The Pilgrimage & Hospitalité Committees have put together an experience to re-create our Pilgrimage with Masses, prayers, videos and interactive events. These will take place during the week when we would have been in Lourdes (10-17 July), and we bring this to you virtually by using our website, Facebook and Zoom.

"It would mean a lot to us if you could join us on the appropriate day and at the scheduled time - so that as many of us as possible are joining in spirit together."

Mass will be celebrated by different priests, including Mgr Tony Duffy, Fr Paul Lee, Fr James Tracey, Fr Jeremy Bath and Fr Alex Davie. There will also be a Eucharistic Procession, a quiz night and even a Zoom sing-song!

Archbishop Cushley, who would normally travel with fellow pilgrims to the French holy site (see below), will celebrate the closing Mass.

He recently sent a message of support to pilgrims who missed out on this year's event, saying: "Not being able to get to Lourdes this year for our summer pilgrimage has been disappointing, yet necessary.

"These are difficult times, but we should not lose heart. Our consolation is Our Lady of Lourdes, the Health of the Sick, so we move forward with quiet confidence in our faith and remain rooted in prayer."

The virtual Lourdes pilgrimage takes place 10-17 July. To find out how to take part, visit the Lourdes virtual pilgrimage page.


Lourdes pilgrims flock to forum for prayers and support

Lourdes pilgrims are flocking to a new forum to post prayers and messages of support during the coronavirus lockdown.

The popular annual Archdiocesan pilgrimage to the French holy site was cancelled last month. But organisers of the Edinburgh Hospitalité and Pilgrimage Committees decided to set up the holy hub so pilgrims and supporters could stay in touch.

They said: "We have created this section of our website as a resource for people to refer to in these challenging times. We hope pilgrims will find it useful and will check-in regularly and we encourage them to send us a message."

Archbishop Cushley, a regular pilgrim, sent his message, saying: "These are difficult times, but we should not lose heart. Our consolation is Our Lady of Lourdes, the Health of the Sick, so we move forward with quiet confidence in our faith and remain rooted in prayer. Stay safe and please be assured of my prayers."

He added: "I hope to see you all at the next pilgrimage – something we can all look forward to! Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us."

Visit the page here. If you would like to post a message email: enquiries@edinburgh-lourdes.com.


Lourdes reflection: Finding God where we don’t expect Him

Lourdes presents an extraordinary miracle. One that was experienced by a very ordinary girl in an obscure French town. In his homily today at Lourdes Grotto, Archbishop Leo Cushley describes how God reveals Himself in unexpected ways on a pilgrimage... and during our entire life.

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh, Mass at the Grotto of Lourdes, 10 July 2019

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

First of all, a renewed word of welcome to you all, including to my brother Bishop Marcus Stock and the pilgrims from Leeds and elsewhere who join the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh for our annual visit to the place where Our Lady appeared to St Bernadette between 11 February and 15 July 1858.

A few months ago, I was down near the English border in our parish in Hawick, celebrating its 175th birthday, and it was a lovely, happy occasion.  We were thinking back to Hawick in 1844, to the people who built a school, then a house for the priest, then a small church which is still there today.  And, like England at the time, there weren’t any Catholic dioceses as yet.  Instead, Scotland was still effectively run as missionary territory.


But, back in 1844, good things were beginning to happen.  That same year, Bernadette Soubirous was born, a poor girl in what was then an obscure town.  A year later, an Anglican clergyman was to become a Catholic, and he would on to have an enormous impact upon Britain in his day.  His name was John Henry Newman.  And others in those days, with generosity of spirit and tenacity and patience, were starting to rebuild the Catholic faith in our country, folk in Hawick and Leeds alike.

Good things were happening, and although they looked at the time like a few small, every day occurrences, we can now see that the Lord was already doing extraordinary things among His people, and among people with the hearts and eyes open to His gifts.  The Lord was present among His people.

Pilgrimages are a bit like that too.  A couple of summers ago, I took a group of over 100 young adults to Iona.  We crossed over on the boat from Oban to Mull in non-stop rain and wind.  We then got on buses and travelled the length of the island of Mull. A couple of hours later, at the little port just across from Iona, in sight of it, we were told that the boat would take us there, but it might not come back.

We couldn’t risk that, so we didn’t go across.  Instead, in the windy sunshine in between the black clouds and wild rain, we improvised prayers on the beach looking over to the abbey, out of reach, a couple of miles away.  Around our youth cross, we said the prayers we had intended to say on Iona, touched the cross in silence and left.  And as soon as the last one of us touched the cross, the rain came right back on, and we dived into a tiny local hall where we said a bedraggled and improvised Mass, with everyone sitting on the floor.

None of this was what we had planned.  And yet we had a wonderful, memorable pilgrimage.  We had walked together and prayed together, we had had a great day out and a great adventure.  And looking back, I see that maybe it was more memorable because it wasn’t quite what we had meant it to be… and I now see that it was a grace-filled moment, and the Lord’s hand was there.

Pilgrimages teach us how to find the Lord, even where we don’t expect Him.  And the Lord is with us throughout our lives.  Maybe we only look for him while we’re on pilgrimage, or when we’re in trouble, but through all our life, God is near us.  He lets His glory be seen, if only we have the eyes to see it.  This is what happens in today’s beautiful Gospel passage.  Mary and her son Jesus go to a wedding. The hosts run out of wine.  There’s a problem, it’s a bit embarrassing, even comical, and Jesus helps out.  But St John, who records this event, lets us see how, in a simple moment of real life, God is present, if only we have the eyes to see it - even if we only notice later on and then learn to treasure it and recall it with awe.

The ancient Celtic Christians had a strong sense of God’s presence among us, and so they had a strong faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true man.  They believed firmly in the Lord’s presence in the places around them.  We demonstrate something similar by coming on pilgrimage to holy places, like this one.  We come here to see with our own eyes, to reach out and touch with our own hands, real places touched by God’s presence.  At one level, it is evident that this place is much like other places we know, not world famous, not frequented by millions – but nonetheless created by God, and precious to Him.  But it is also a place where something extraordinary happened, and it becomes a place that teaches us that God is present in our lives, if only we have the eyes and the heart to see it a little more clearly.

God works through ordinary people and ordinary places to speak to us, to bless us and to heal us.  St Bernadette was a poor girl sent here to collect firewood one unremarkable day in 1858.  Through her, though, God lets us know that, our real and unremarkable lives are also a grace-filled opportunity, a pilgrimage, and that He is present to us and accompanies us throughout this wonderful adventure.  He also lets us see what a gift life is to us.  Bernadette’s own great heavenly patron, St Bernard of Clairvaux, once wrote, What do we have that we didn’t receive from God?  So, if everything we have is from Him, if every place and person is a gift from God, our first and best response must be one of humble thanks for God’s presence, for His goodness, for His gift of life and the gift of His love which accompanies us on our way, no matter how long or short the way is, no matter how easy or difficult.

The Lord is close to us, and He speaks to us.  He accomplishes extraordinary things in ordinary people and places, and among those with the hearts and eyes open to His gifts.  In this very ordinary corner of the Pyrenees, blessed by the extraordinary moment when Our Lady spoke to a poor young girl, we pray for an open and simple heart like Bernadette’s.  When the Lord chooses to speak to us, may we know Him and listen to Him. And may we learn to see God’s loving presence in all that happens to us, no matter what, as we go along, on our pilgrimage through life.

Graduate Jaclyn jets off to join Lourdes pilgrims

Jaclyn Marshall pressed pause on her Lourdes pilgrimage - so she could graduate from Edinburgh University.

The new qualified primary school teacher will catch-up today (Saturday) with fellow pilgrims from the Archdiocese, including twin sister Melissa, who flew out yesterday for the annual trip.

Speaking on Friday, Jaclyn, 22, from Edinburgh, said: “The graduation ceremony is at 11am. I’ll have my graduation meal then head to Stansted Airport for an overnight stay, before flying out on Saturday.”

It’s the fifth year that Jaclyn has been to Lourdes, while Melissa has been six times. Both are parishioners at St Patrick’s, Cowgate.

Jaclyn (right) said: “We just love it. It renews your faith every year.

“You feel close to God when you’re there. Lourdes is for everyone, especially those who want to get closer to their faith.”

Jaclyn and other volunteers help disabled and elderly pilgrims have a fantastic week.

She said: “You take care of them the same way you hope someone would take care of you some day.

“The placebo effect is phenomenal for the rest of the week – you would think they were cured! It’s so lovely.

Melissa added: “It’s an emotional time too, because a lot of people making the pilgrimage have been through a lot. The support everyone has for each other is incredible.”

Jaclyn will start teaching at St Margaret’s RC Primary School in South Queensferry in August. Melissa is currently studying Primary Teaching at Strathclyde University.

This morning's opening Mass at the Autel Esplanade (Irene Furlong).

'The graces from Lourdes are for all': Pilgrims fly out to France

Pilgrims were all smiles as they gathered at Edinburgh Airport on Friday morning for the annual Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes.

They will spend an uplifting week at the French holy site for a time of prayer, reflection...and fun! The theme for this year's trip is "Blessed are the poor, for the kingdom of God is yours”.

Monica Bald, who has been numerous times to Lourdes, tweeted pictures of Celtic manager Neil Lennon meeting pilgrims at the airport.

She wrote: "There’s only one Neil Lennon - taking time out to chat to our Lourdes sick pilgrims & helpers."

Martine McElston, from Edinburgh, who uses a wheelchair, explained the draw of Lourdes: "It's not just for people with disabilities, the graces from Lourdes are for all. Everyone has stuff that needs fixed, and most people need fixed in their heart.

"It's a place where it feels like nothing else matters. It's amazing - everyone should go."

Archbishop Leo Cushley has been numerous times to Lourdes and joined pilgrims for the morning flight.

He said: “One of the things about Lourdes that strikes me is how often people come back. It has a unique spiritual pull that I find difficult to explain but which I understand myself because I feel the draw of Lourdes as well.

"I think an important part of it is that you learn through people’s sickness and sufferings of a need for healing, a need that goes way beyond the physical that all of us are in need of completion and of the grace of almighty God to be better, holier people.

"That for me is an important part of the message of Lourdes."

Lourdes has been a site of pilgrimage since 1858 when Bernadette Soubirous experienced visions of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. These apparitions were subsequently declared “worthy of belief” by the Church.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon met pilgrims at Edinburgh Airport.

(From left) Lucy Gold, Mairi Boyle, Ruth Gold and Lisa Johnston.

Katrina McGillivray (left) and Jennifer Williams.

(From left) Monique Lockhart, Miles Lockhart, Erin Thomson, Erin Sutherland and Melissa Marshall.

John O'Connor and Margaret King.

(From left) Margaret Ellison, Norah Magennis, Angie Fitzharris and Cecile Thorburn.

Kris Thomas (left) and David Bald.

Martine and George McElston.

Tony Gallagher and Maureen Casey.

Mairi Boyle (left) and Sadie Rodgers.

Archbishop Leo Cushley (left) and Monsignor Tony Duffy.