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With a theme of Let Us Go In Procession, the 64th International Military Pilgrimage (IMP) to Lourdes took place from 23 to 27 May.  A UK contingent of 350 personnel from across the Whole Force, under the leadership of The Right Reverand Paul Mason, Roman Catholic Bishop of the Armed Forces, and the individual Service Principal Roman Catholic Chaplains, gathered with around 15,000 service personnel from more than 40 nations for a long weekend of pilgrimage, prayer and fellowship.


Lourdes has been a place of pilgrimage since 1858 when a young peasant girl called Bernadette Soubirous witnessed several apparitions of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.  Mary gave Bernadette a message of prayer, repentance, and pilgrimage.  3.5 million pilgrims come each year to be open to experience an encounter with themselves, with others, and with God.


The IMP grew out of a desire for Franco-German reconciliation following World War II.  In 1958 the pilgrimage was extended to the Armed Forces of other nations to promote reconciliation and peace.  The cornerstones of the IMP are fraternity, peace and hope.  Through a series of national and international events and services, as well as time spent in social and sporting activities, the IMP pilgrim can't fail but be moved by this place of comradeship, love, and hope. 


The dates for the 65th IMP in 2025 are 15 to 19 May. Should you wish to attend or if you want further information please contact your chaplain.

Photographs Credit: Flt Lt Luke Bluer, official IMP photographer for the UK Contingent

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