The Accueil Marie St Frai is the place where our sick and cared for pilgrims stay. It is only 500 metres away from the entrance to the shrine. It is known by many simply as ‘The Accueil’ or ‘St Frai’, and sometimes people call it ‘the hospital’ although it doesn’t quite resemble a hospital as we would describe one.
In French, the word “Accueil” means “Place of welcome” and there is no literal translation of this phrase into English, but we hope that where we stay with our sick and pilgrims is indeed a place of welcome.
There are four floors of accommodation, each floor being named after a different saint and on each floor there are approximately 100 beds for pilgrims who need looking after. These floors are split into six- bedded or twin rooms. There are also single and twin rooms for those who may wish to book independently. Each room also has easy access to bathrooms and toilets. On each floor there is also a large dining room.
At the time of our Hexham and Newcastle Pilgrimage there may be other groups of pilgrims staying on the same floor as we do. These pilgrims may also be English, as there are a number of pilgrimages from the UK present in Lourdes at the same time, but sometimes, the pilgrims may be from a totally different nationality and this might to be a great opportunity to test our your European language skills!!
Each year we ask for a certain number of rooms but have no way of knowing which rooms we will be allocated by the staff of the St Frai. This means that when we look at the requests we receive for people to stay with us in the Accueil St Frai, we cannot guarantee a twin or single room, but will do all we can to keep family members and friends together wherever possible.
Throughout the year, groups and pilgrimages use the Accueil as the place where their sick and assisted pilgrims stay and where they are looked after by their pilgrimage helpers. The Accueil St Frai also has a team of “Stagiaires” – members of the ‘Hospitalité Notre Dame de Lourdes’ [http://hospitalite-nd-lourdes.com/en/] who work for one week every year and assist with the day to day running of the Accueil.
The overall management of the Accueil Marie St Frai is carried out by the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows and the Sisters have appointed Mr Alain Esparbès as their Director of the Accueil Marie St Frai.
You can find out more about the Sisters who run the St Frai and about the Accueil by following this link http://www.saintfrai-lourdes.com/