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Pope set to follow pilgrim trail to Lourdes

Pope John Paul II is preparing to spend Saturday and Sunday in Lourdes, partly in response to an invitation from the French Bishops Conference to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception.

Last week he invited pilgrims to accompany him to Lourdes, and to a subsequent visit to Loreto, Italy, next month.

"Mary is a unique and eloquent example of this spiritual 'wealth' for she calls herself a 'servant' of God and gives herself up to His will. May the Holy Virgin guide us on the arduous but liberating journey towards Christian holiness, spring of inner peace and joy."

AsiaNews reports that the Holy Father's coming pilgrimage to Lourdes is raising interest among Asia's Christians and encouraging them to pray. It says that last year about 9000 pilgrims from Asia visited Lourdes, the largest group (1179) coming from South Korea.

It says that Christians from the Middle East also come to Lourdes in great numbers, especially those from Lebanon, wgere devotion to Mary is strong among Maronite Catholics. There is often a Maronite confessor in Lourdes.

Pope John Paul II has previously visited Lourdes in 1983.

Ailing Pope to follow pilgrim trail to Lourdes (The Age 11/8/04)
The Pope invites pilgrims to Lourdes and Loreto ( 1/8/04)
Lourdes: pilgrims from Asia among the many ( 9/8/04)

In spirit Chinese Catholics join pilgrim Pope in Lourdes ( 10/8/04)
Website offers prayer by proxy for pope's visit to Lourdes (Yahoo/AFP 8/8/04)
Pope meets with women who decided against abortion, kept children (Catholic News Service 9/8/04)
French doctor to vet Lourdes 'miracles' (Associated Press/The Australian 10/8/04)
Pope defies doctors (AFP/The Australian 9/8/04)
Pope's Lourdes pilgrimage to praise God, not seek healing (CathNews 2/8/04)

11 Aug 2004