The request by Mary was for people to drink and bathe in the water emerging from the well in the grotto. And that’s what people have been doing for the past 160 years. No idea hy did she ask people to do this.

Today, Pádraig was lifted by a very organised, determined and assertive crew of half a dozen Italians on a waterproof stretcher into the freezing cold water. Like everything else, the 100+ year old baths are a tad to short for Pádraig. But somehow they managed to get his whole body into the water for which you famously don’t need a towel to dry yourself. Once Pádraig was finished, I went in myself. I won’t forget the shock of the cold cold water. There is no doubt that bathing in and drinking the water of the well at the grotto did have an effect on me. For a moment, it completely cleared my mind. And it’s all quite out of the ordinary.

I have, unsuccessfully, been trying to find out how it is that water became so important to Lourdes and why Mary asked people to bathe in it and to drink it.

What I do know is that there are few things that are more important to Pádraig than water. From drinking to swimming and now also bathing. Water is so incredibly powerful.

I haven’t really had an opportunity to talk to Pádraig about his experience in Lourdes. The place is too busy to do this. But I will. Maybe together we can sort out our impressions of a very special place with incredible people surrounded by neo-signs and blinking crosses and madonnas.

Tomorrow morning, we will have to get up just before 5am to get ready and catch the first flight back home. With a bottle of water from Lourdes in our luggage.