As A DIARIST of exceptional and impeccable piety. I have often found myself treading the well-worn path to the Grotto at Lourdes. Between the clicking of my Rosary beads, I have sometimes thought what a wonderful place this would be to make a documentary — the surging crowds, the admirable stalls selling devotional aids, the gaiety and fraternal sharing of local hostelries, the wonderful bustle of humanity.
Well, film-maker Vince Powell has put my bright idea into action and produced what insiders are describing as "the most realistic view of Lourdes ever". Mr Powell, who honed his skills as a scriptwriter for the Carry On films and for Cilia Black on Blind Date, has created a fly-on-the-wall account of Westminster Diocese's July pilgrimage to Lourdes.
Mr Powell tracks the weary pilgrims on their journey to the grotto with a sublime lightness of touch. The Duchess of Kent (below) and Cardinal Hume play leading roles along with lovely actress (and Viscountess) Moira Lister.
The video, entitled The Road to Lourdes — presumably because Carry On Up the Grotto was vetoed — lasts for one and a half hours and is, according to the Cardinal, "the
first video to bring Lourdes alive".
At the video's launch on Saturday, the film-maker gave a cheque for £700 to the Cardinal and proceeds from the video go to help future pilgrims make the journey to Lourdes.
THE REQUIEM MASS for The Herald's distinguished theatre critic Bill Igoe this Monday is to be celebrated in the suitably dramatic surroundings of St Etheldreda's. Ely Place. According to his friend the actress Kitty Fitzgerald, Bill, who died in the summer aged 88, refidsed to wear his uniform when made a papal knight, a curiously stubborn stance for a luvvie.
"Bill went to every London first night for 40 years, except for three years he spent covering Broadway," Kitty tells me. "I used to joke that he had a harem, because he would go along to the theatre with two or three different women."
The Requiem Mass is at 6pm on Monday, November 2.
A CRISP TEN pound note to the reader who can offer me the best explanation of what the Shrewsbury Diocese calls its "Looking in on Day", which apparently falls next Thursday.
Doing the "looking in upon", we learn, are "participants of the parish ministry co-ordinators courses". A few years ago, our bishops seemed stuck in a 1960s theme park, complete with neo-brutalist architecture and tired "folk masses". Now they have discovered the joys of 1980s management-speak. Give them a decade or so, and they'll all be humming Oasis and enthusing about New Labour.
But will he dance?
GETTING THE new academic. year of to a zesffui start this week is Bishop David Konstant (top right). After the rigours of a meeting with young clergy the Bishop is to lend his nifty footwork to Catholic students at his local university. Leeds University Cathsoc (Catholic Society, for those not familiar with undergradute abbreviations) are holding a Ceilidh next Saturday, and the Bishop has accepted an invitation as it is "just down the road".
The Bishop's secretary tells me that he is putting his money on the Bishop not to dance. I fancy that the students may try to tempt him otherwise.
Those still sober enough at the end of the evening to spell the word 'Ceilidh' may like to ask the Bishop which of his two youthful engagements — young priests or students — was most helpful to him in relating to young people.
A very remarkable double escape from death took place in Scotland recently. Father Alex Davie, of St Mary's Catholic Catheiral Edinburgh, was defending is title as champion of the Clerge golfing competition, when a downpour stopped play. Fr. Davi opened his handsome golfing umtrella, which was instantly struck b)lightang. Fr Davie wisely dropped t and staggered over to a tree. A few nnutes later, he was struck again. This super-priest not only emerged suffering no more thana certain soreness in the arm: hewent on to win the tournament.
There are still those a the diocese who somewhat superstously believe that to be struck by ligltning is a sign of divine displeasure. "The lightning bolt department got he wrong Edinburgh clergyman", writes a correspondentin green ink on lined notepaper. "It was mare for the Piskie bishop ".This is a reference, no doubt, to he jatoty Episcopalian (Anglican) Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Hdlowat who among other transgressons has attacked those opposedto woraen priests as "mean-minchcl sods". Hrnm. Perhaps....