The 54th International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes took place in May 2012.
The IMP is a gathering in Lourdes in the south of France of over 25,000 military personnel from a range of countries. It was begun by French and German Chaplains after the Second World War as a means of reconciliation between previously warring countries.
A British Joint Services contingent attends annually. In the last few years the RAF group has grown in size with the RAF having the best representation ever at IMP 2012. This was an opportunity for personnel to engage in an activity that is international, high-profile, multi-cultural and representational. Places were limited but representation was made by groups of all ages and ranks.
In that RAF personnel represent the Royal Air Force, the IMP is classed as duty, subject to the agreement of Commanding Officers. The event was also supported by a range of grants for Service personnel from the Tri-Service Roman Catholic Trusts, and from other secured sources. Depending on the finance available, personal contributions were minimal.
For those interested in attending in 2013, speak to Father Christopher Marsden.