LOURDES, France (CNS) -- About 60 retired or active duty U.S. military personnel packed their uniforms, flags, wheelchairs, canes and the inevitable emotional baggage of their daily struggles to take part in a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
While many of these men and women, who had been injured in some way in the line of duty, went to seek peace and healing from this sacred place, some said they also found enormous and unexpected blessings from the people they encountered on their journey.
The soldiers, together with family members or caregivers, took part in a "Warriors to Lourdes" pilgrimage, sponsored by the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services and the Knights of Columbus. The Knights covered the costs for the wounded personnel for the weeklong encounter of prayer, healing and friendship. For many of them, the May 13-19 visit to Lourdes -- where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 -- was their first pilgrimage ever.
Catholic News Service