Our Lady of Gypsies to Visit Lourdes Shrine

8,000 Join Annual Pilgrimage

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LOURDES, France, AUG. 19, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The pilgrimage of the statue of Our Lady of Gypsies to the shrine of Lourdes marks the 54th annual pilgrimage of gypsies and itinerant people to the French Marian shrine.



Some 8,000 gypsies and itinerant people are expected to attend the pilgrimage, which will culminate Tuesday with the arrival of the statue to the Marian shrine, reports the Bishops' Conference of France on its Web site.
 
Bishop Raymond Centène of Vannes, who is also director of the pastoral care of itinerant people in France, will preside at a Mass at the grotto. At the end of the celebration a reading will be made of the graces received from the Virgin of Gypsies, whose history is one of a small "miracle."
 
At the end of World War II, a family of gypsies avoided a mortal accident. Their caravan crashed into a U.S. army truck and caught fire, but no one was injured.
 
In thanksgiving, the father of the family carved a wooden Virgin with the head crowned with copper and holding the Child Jesus in one hand and a small caravan in the other. A hedgehog is at her feet. She is venerated by gypsies, especially since Pope Paul VI blessed her in 1965.
 
In the prayer to the Virgin of Gypsies, which will be recited during the celebration, she is asked to look upon "our suffering, our misery" and that she stay "on this earth with us in life."