Take A Cinematic Visit To Lourdes With “The Miracle Club” – Catholic Movie Review

by February, Movie Reviews and Recommendations

Though most Catholics will never have the opportunity to make a major pilgrimage in their life, there are a handful who will. The most popular Catholic pilgrimage places might be the Holy Land, Rome (and Italy), and France, especially Lourdes.  Shrines of Mary’s apparitions and saints would also rank high on many people’s lists.  The newly released movie The Miracle Club tells the stories of a handful of women from Ireland who wish to join their parish priest on a pilgrimage to Lourdes.  Each woman is searching for a miracle: a young mother for her toddler who is mute, a woman with a leg longer than the other, and one because she found a lump on her breast.  A fourth woman joins the pilgrimage taking the place of her deceased mother. 

The movie masterfully captures the essence of a Lourdes pilgrimage.  I’ve been to Lourdes a handful of times and their experience resonated with me.  When a pilgrim sees the Grotto for the first time, so many thoughts go through their mind.  I appreciated the contemplative thought that they offered, considering all that the Mother of God went through watching her son die. The film captures the baths in Lourdes exquisitely. Our Lady told St. Bernadette to wash herself with the miraculous spring water. Today that takes place with the help of volunteers who lower individuals into the baths. The water is quite cold, and it is an experience to say the least. One thing I remember from my bath in Lourdes was how quickly I dried after the bath. 

The Miracle Club Trailer

Set in 1967, THE MIRACLE CLUB follows the story of three generations of close friends, Lily (Maggie Smith), Eileen (Kathy Bates), and Dolly (Agnes O’Casey) of Ballygar, a hard-knocks community in Dublin, who have one tantalizing dream: to win a pilgrimage to the sacred French town of Lourdes, that place of miracles that draws millions of visitors each year. When the chance to win presents itself, the women seize it. However, just before their trip, their old friend Chrissie (Laura Linney) arrives in Ballygar for her mother’s funeral, dampening their good mood and well-laid plans. The women set out on the journey that they hope will change their lives, with Chrissie, a skeptical traveler, joining in place of her mother. The glamour and sophistication of Chrissie, who has just returned from a nearly 40-year exile in the United States, are not her only distancing traits: Old wounds are reopened along the way, forcing the women to confront their pasts even as they travel in search of a miracle.

https://www.sonyclassics.com/film/themiracleclub/

I’ve been on numerous pilgrimages throughout my relatively short life. When I was a young lad at the age of 16, I went on a pilgrimage to a place of purported Marian apparition.  A common phrase I heard then and still hear today regardless of place is that Our Lady invites and calls the pilgrim. By extension, we should include our Lord too. The older ladies on the pilgrimage wonder why Chrissie was going to Lourdes. One lady aptly responded, “Maybe our Lady brought her.” By the movie’s end they would understand why Our Lady brought her there.  A person might go on a pilgrimage in hope of a miracle, but they might receive some other needed grace instead of what they had hoped for. Our Lord and Blessed Lady know why each person is there and what they need. 

The ladies are disappointed when they learn there were less than 70 verified miracles.  The movie offers a lesson on miracles, defined by the church as instantaneous, unexplainable, and long-lasting.  Pilgrims have been going to Lourdes since 1858.  While only 70 have been verified, many other minor miracles that the office in Lourdes has not confirmed have taken place for pilgrims. Their disappointment might highlight the wrong motives for visiting Lourdes.  By the end of the film, all will experience a ‘miracle.’  It was just different than what they thought or wanted.  It wasn’t a shock and awe miracle but a subtle one.  When the women and their pastor return to Ireland, all have been changed by the graces of Lourdes. 

If you have the chance to see The Miracle Club you will be able to get a taste of Lourdes or re-live your pilgrimage experience through this film and watch stories of healing and reconciliation play out on the big screen. 

Can a Catholic Watch The Miracle Club?

The movie has some irreverent funny lines, such as the older ladies exclaiming, “Holy Mother of God,” the very one they are hoping to see on the pilgrimage.  The movie does not show any promiscuity between Chrissie and the priest, but the older ladies hint at ill motives on her part.  At times, the two were in situations that could have led to scandal.  I’m sure the Virtus minded and boundary police will squirm at those scenes. 

Fr. Looney’s Rating

9/10- For a good portrayal of a Catholic pilgrimage and great acting.  

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