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All sunshine and happiness today in Lourdes, finally! I had to go to Mass this morning, obviously, because it’s Sunday. It was in that ugly little post-modernist concrete structure called St. Joseph’s Chapel, but the morning certainly wasn’t wasted, as the always casually-dressed Fr. Mike, who I’d had a passionate debate with about Welsh history over a few pints last night, delivered a very inspiring and articulate homily about why many feel more comfortable asking Our Lady (and whichever saints) to pray for us, as we all sat round the altar.

I didn’t stay in Lourdes that afternoon. Declan, John and myself, along with a number of others, went south to Gavarnie,which is a settlement/outpost at the base of a giant ridge that’s essentially a wall between France and Spain. It’s the Spanish border, but crossing it would be like climbing Everest. I once attempted to make it there on foot, but obviously didn’t get very far.

Along the way we passed the Pyrenees National Park, several giant hydro-electric plants, and a bridge commissioned by Napoleon III on which there was some bungee jumping event. Apparently there’s a population of bears in the national park, and they almost went extinct in the late-1970s. I might bring Missy to Spain next year, and drive from there through the Pyrenees and into southern France.

Our rather small contingent joined several other groups for the torchlit procession, and it went very well.