600km Walking Pilgrimage through Spain

Written by Denise Chng Lisan & published on September 2 2008

From the moment I discovered an ancient pilgrimage path in Spain in June last year, the attraction of walking hundreds of kilometres towards an assured destination grew on me daily. My eagerness to go on a month-long journey on foot across the steep slopes, lush valleys and forests of the Pyrenees, and through countless small towns and villages, was part of a subconscious quest to find depth and meaning in my life. At the age of 33, I was approaching – prematurely, perhaps – what seemed to be a mid-life crisis.

Straits Times Life! Article,Denise Chng Lisan,Camino de Santiago,Camino Frances

Letter from Quebec: Preserving Heritage

Written by Denise Chng Lisan & published on November 8 2008

'TRAVEL is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living,' wrote Miriam Beard. Life in Quebec is now my teacher, pointing out my knowledge gaps and honing my ideas of living - be it language, culture, life-skills, or the environment.

Denise Chng Lisan

Published in The CatholicNews Singapore Sep 27, 2009 : A Bath in Lourdes

Posted by Denise CHNG Lisan On Friday, September 25, 2009
A time of inner preparation for the pilgrimage

By Denise Chng Lisan
27th September, 2009

It probably sounds crazy to wait five hours for a bath, but that was exactly what I did in Lourdes in France. The long line sifted out the faithful from the undetermined, as the hours of waiting got unbearable. I waited on, motivated more by curiosity than by faith. Inch by inch, the line moved. I was chanting the prayer of Hail Mary with the rest of the waiting pilgrims, remembering that it was not so long ago when my life was as empty as an arid land and faith had taken a long leave of absence…

A year before, in 2006, I had lost both my mother and my grandmother within months. The fact that both of them were named after Mother Mary, and that my grandmother left behind a picture of little Bernadette kneeling before Mother Mary at the grotto in Lourdes pointed my way to the sacred site. In my state of grief, Lourdes was calling out to me with the promise of Motherly love.

The summer of 2007, I arrived at Lourdes, at the foothills of the Pyrenees, with a heart palpitating with both excitement and anxiety. It was hard not to gasp in fear at my first sight of the mountains looming in the background. I almost regretted planning to trek over the Pyrenees on my 600km walking pilgrimage from France to Santiago in Northern Spain. But the pain of loss and emotional emptiness within me demanded that I conquer this feat, perhaps to balance the equation with matching physical discomfort and spiritual anguish. Lourdes became a natural sanctuary for my inner preparation before I embarked on my pilgrimage on foot.

Those who have gone to Lourdes have told me that taking a bath in Lourdes is a special experience not to be missed. The spring water of Lourdes is believed to be a sacred source of life and has miraculously cured many. By the number of sick pilgrims who arrive in busloads, it is evident that many come in faith and hope that the Lourdes water will heal them. I saw women coming out of their baths, somehow looking different, as if they were carrying a world of importance in them. One woman who left crying marked me with the intensity of her experience.

After a long five-hour wait, and five minutes later, I came out of the bath feeling completely cleansed in spirit, leaving behind the imaginary soil of my life. I walked out with hands over my heart, guarding the precious gift of the Spirit inside me. Everything started anew from then on. It felt like baptism.

In the silence of that evening, I knelt before the statue of Mother Mary, as Bernadette did, to give thanks. I offered up my fears and inadequacies in prayer. In return, grace and love washed over me, and I ended up sobbing like a baby. Nothing heals more than the powerful and direct experience of Motherly love. I was ready to take on my long journey ahead.

A video of Lourdes made in memory of my mother:

To read blog posts written during the 600km Pilgrimage, you can begin here.
(Click 'newer posts' to advance or follow drop down menu 'Camino de Santiago' on the top menu)

6 Response to 'Published in The CatholicNews Singapore Sep 27, 2009 : A Bath in Lourdes'

  1. Anonymous Said,'> 9 November 2009 at 00:40

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  2. Anonymous Said,'> 21 January 2010 at 03:18

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  3. alkie traveller Said,'> 5 February 2010 at 11:04


    hows your travelling so far?...not sure if you would be interested to know but to keep you posted on my camino...cut the story March 2010 camino had to be postponed due to some reasons (which i think it's too long a story to elaborate here)...for now, i would need to get a job...and after bumping around for 4 months (while still doing some freelance)...i still haven't find out the "what" that i wanted...hence i just send out my resumes to everywhere and anywhere...but response had not been really satisfying...hopefully the almighty one up there can give me some directions..and probably a suitable job soon...



  4. Anonymous Said,'> 5 February 2010 at 14:31

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  5. Anonymous Said,'> 6 February 2010 at 06:14

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  6. Anonymous Said,'> 19 February 2010 at 01:25

    You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view


    Ave Maria - Lourdes, France

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