By Ann Marie Foley - 20 July, 2017
“I had a bad leg, a very difficult early childhood ... So when I go [to Lourdes] I think, aren’t I a lucky boy that I can walk and come here and help people more incapacitated than I was, and I thank God for that.”
TV star and hotelier Francis Brennan has stated on Saturday Night with Miriam that he loves going to Lourdes and he thanks God for his health.
In September he will make his 35th trip to Lourdes and will work in the kitchen to serve the Kerry diocesan group.
“It’s great. I love doing it. As long as I am able to do it I will,” he told Miriam O’Callaghan.
“I had a bad leg, a very difficult early childhood. I was in Cappagh [National Orthopaedic Hospital] as a boy and I had eleven operations and was always looked after. So when I go there [Lourdes] I think, aren’t I a lucky boy that I can walk and come here and help people more incapacitated than I was, and I thank God for that.”
The much loved star of TV programmes like At Your Service and Francis Brennan’s Grand Tour of Vietnam has often spoken about Lourdes and his faith.
In 2012 he received the Bene Merenti medal, an honour from the Vatican for his dedication to the Lourdes trips.
No matter where he goes in the world for his TV and hotel promotion work, he never misses Mass, whether it is New York or Moscow, and he said it gives him a sense of community. He also carries a rosary beads in his briefcase.
Francis Brennan is among the thousands of Irish pilgrims who visit Lourdes every summer. Many dioceses and parishes make the trip. At the moment the first Kildare and Leighlin diocesan pilgrimage is going on. There have been many Lourdes trips from individual parishes and certain areas within the Diocese, but this is what Bishop Denis Nulty has called the inaugural diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes.
On Sunday 16 July over 1,200 people from across the diocese made the journey to Lourdes and Bishop Nulty welcomed them to the opening Mass, saying:
“We have arrived, and in our arriving, in our unburdening let us celebrate the Lady who has brought us here from every parish. This may be our first ever diocesan pilgrimage, but its success is on the shoulders of a hugely successful local parish pilgrimage tradition that stretches back many years. Let us speak to Our Lady in her language of hope and joy as expressed in her Magnificat.”
He said that in Lourdes one needs to learn a new vocabulary. The language of Lourdes is the language of rest, peace, stillness, humour and good fun.
“All of us come overburdened – it might be an illness, an addiction, a bit of bother at home, a personal difficulty that will be addressed in a petition later in the week. All of us need a rest. This isn’t a holiday but it is a rest. We shouldn’t miss that rest. All of us are in need of healing, we have our story to tell, and we bring with us the stories of many more at home,” he said.
The Kildare and Leighlin pilgrimage concludes on Friday 21 July. The Kerry Diocesan pilgrimage runs from 2 to 7 September.