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A Pilgrim’s Story of Faith and Healing

March 7, 2023 | A yearly visit to Lourdes, is a source of beauty and spiritual growth for Ann DiBari.

Ann DiBari feels at home each year she takes her pilgrimage to Our Lady of Lourdes.

“My husband was sick, he had cancer, and out of the blue he said he wanted to go to Lourdes,” said Ann of St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in Clearwater. “I was worried because we didn’t have money; he was sick and neither of us worked.”

Until this day, Ann doesn’t know what inspired her husband to insist they visit Lourdes, but it has changed her life since.

Ann has been visiting the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes each year since 1988. She has gone on her own personal journey, as a volunteer, and as a group leader.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is a Catholic Marian Shrine in southern France that was built around a grotto where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a teenage girl, Bernadette Soubirous, in 1858. The Sanctuary attracts millions of pilgrims from around the world each year, including those in need of healing. The Lourdes water, which has flowed from the grotto since the apparitions, is attributed to miraculous healings.

“When you go to Lourdes everyone leaves with their own personal miracles,” Ann said. “My husband was not physically healthy, but he was spiritually healthy afterwards.”

She recalls how in his times of struggle; he didn’t lose faith. Before the trip, he was religious but he never prayed the Rosary. After the trip, something changed within him, and he asked her to pray the Rosary with him while he laid in his hospice bed.

“I recall, I was in the kitchen cleaning up when he asked what I was doing and called me over and asked if I could pray the Rosary with him,” she said. “In my heart, I could see that while there wasn’t a physical miracle, there was a spiritual one and a change on the inside.”

As long as she is able, Ann will continue to go on the journey to visit the Blessed Mother. “I remember one year before I left, I had a dream. I was sitting in the dream and praying, looking over the sun, and Mary appeared. She said, ‘I need you to come, I need more people in procession.’”

Since then, Ann has been bringing groups and helping to lead the way. She considers Lourdes her “home” and looks forward to visiting every year. She wants people to see the beauty and experience the fruitful spiritual growth the sacred place offers. 

“Every year before I go, I pray to the Blessed Mother and offer the trip to her. I know she has been with me and will guide me each year,” Ann said. “You go with the devotion to pray and see the Blessed Mother work in many different ways.”

Ann is excited for her upcoming trip this year. “I am excited to visit the Grotto, I never realized how much the Blessed Mother looks at me until the moment when I look into her eyes, and it feels as if she’s talking to me.”

If you want to join Ann on her upcoming pilgrimage to Fatima and Lourdes on Sept. 24– Oct. 3, 2023, you can contact her at (727) 415- 6855. The trip will include visits to Fatima, Alijustrel, Valinhos, Santarem, Cathedral of Burgos, Monastery of Santa Maria Real delas Huelgas, Lourdes, Grotto of Massabielle, Carcassone, Barcelona, and La Sagrada Familia. The 10-day tour includes round-trip air from Tampa, hotel, transfers, and 15 meals. The cost of the trip is $3,999.