There is this really old German joke (an oxymoron like ‘military intelligence’:) asking why you would never dispose of nuclear waste on Mars? – Because “Mars bringt verbrauchte Energie sofort zurück” (from a famous add campaign by the makers of Mars bars: ‘Mars instantly returns/restores used energy’). Today it was Pádraig’s turn to call their bluff with his first Mars bar in a long time. It worked and he liked it!


There is loads of energy around in Lourdes. Not just in the form of Mars bars. It’s a place that really wouldn’t leave you indifferent.

There was loads of rain today (again), so in a way we were all lucky that they big blessing ceremony took place in the huge underground cathedral. It was some event. Chief celebrant was the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, Cardinal Seán Brady. For me, these almost over the top ceremonies are like time travel. They don’t seem to fit into our times anymore.

The underground cathedral got the biggest and most sophisticated dispenser of ‘holy smoke’ I’d ever seen. Good job there was a breeze blowing in the ‘right’ direction.

We found out today, that the huge golden crown on top of the main church was donated by Irish catholics. It’s the most distinguished and visible feature of the cathedral.

Pádraig will sleep in the Accueil, the hostel for the injuries and sick, without us for the second night. We have never left him with other people since he left the hospital, except for a few nights with his aunt, when Pat and I had to go to Boston for a few nights. We were very hesitant to do this here but nowhere in the world would you find more caring and reliable people than the one looking after those in need here. The level of trust we have developed with the people here is comforting: these are people you know will do anything in their power to help others because that is what they want to do, that is who they are, and that is how they see themselves. Their are no risk assessments, no forms to fill in, we haven’t exchanged one email with them, they have the greatest respect for Pádraig and for us. And I think that it must be great for Pádraig to fell and realise that he can be perfectly ok and safe even if we are not with him in the same room. One in Lourdes?