By Cian Molloy - 27 January, 2020
A novena in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes starts next Sunday at the Church of Mary Immaculate in Inchicore, which is home to what may be Ireland’s largest Marian grotto.
This parish is one of three in the Dublin Archdiocese that is managed by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and it has always been the parish most strongly linked with devotion to the Shrine of Our Lady in the South of France.
The Marian grotto here dates back to 1883, following Ireland’s first officially organised pilgrimage to Lourdes, which was led by Fr William Ring OMI who first proposed the idea. However, it wasn’t until 1924 that the shrine, measuring 15m in height by 40m in width, was built.
Scores of people visit the shrine for private prayers every day, but when the annual Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes starts on Sunday, with Mass at 11.30 a.m., hundreds of people will make their way to the church on Tyrconnell Road in Dublin 8.
The theme of this year’s novena is ‘Mary as friend, sister and mother’ and the devotional observance is being directed by Meath diocesan priest Fr Shane Crombie. During the nine-day observance, Masses will be celebrated at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., with the exception of the two Sundays, 2 and 9 February, when morning Mass will be celebrated at 11.30 a.m., and on Saturday 8 February, when Mass will be at 11 a.m.
Of course, each day will have a different Marian focus: ‘With Mary to Christ our Light’ on Sunday 2 February; ‘Mary, Our Life, Our Sweetness and Our Hope’ on Monday, which is also the Feast of St Blaise; ‘Mary, Mother of the Broken-Hearted’ on Tuesday; ‘Mary, Help of Christians’ on Wednesday; ‘Mary, Mother of the Child Jesus’ on Thursday; ‘Mary, Mother of the Sacred Heart’ on Friday; ‘Mary, Health of the Sick’ on Saturday, when there will be anointing of the sick at morning Mass; ‘Mary, Salt of the Earth and Light of the World’ on Sunday 9 February; ‘Mary, Refuge of Sinners’ on Monday, when there will be a focus on the Sacrament of Reconciliation; and ‘Our Lady of Lourdes’ on Tuesday.
The Novena will end on Tuesday night, weather-permitting, with a torchlight procession from the church to the grotto nearby.