Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler - Lourdes
Airs Tuesday, December 16th at 8p on WVIA-TV
Host Bruce Feiler embeds with a group of active duty and retired US military, wounded in Afghanistan, Iraq and other American wars, as they travel to the Catholic shrine of Lourdes in Southwest France in search of healing. More than five million pilgrims from around the world visit this shrine to the Virgin Mary every year to drink and bathe in the waters of a spring that Catholics believe has miraculous powers.
The wounded warriors from America are joining 25,000 other military and their families from 35 different nations on an International Military Pilgrimage that’s now in its 55th year, starting after the Second World War. While only half the American soldiers are Catholic, all hope that Lourdes can provide spiritual and emotional healing beyond the treatment they’ve already received for their physical wounds and disabilities – especiallyfor invisible wounds of war like PTSD.
Some of these wounded warriors come to Lourdes as skeptics, many with faith or at least an open mind. Whether sharing their stories of war and recovery with Bruce Feiler or finding healing in the camaraderie of fellow warriors, the weeklong pilgrimage allows the veterans to open up to others in a place whose primary focus is to ease suffering. It’s healing just as powerful as the waters of the spring uncovered by a young peasant girl named Bernadette during her vision of the Virgin Mary in 1858. Not everyone believes in miracles, but as a young non-Catholic soldier wounded just months earlier in Afghanistan says on his departure from Lourdes: “I don’t know what it is but there’s something special about this place.”