Why we love Lourdes!
Lourdes is situated in a beautiful location near the majestic Pyrenees in South West France. It is one of the most famous Christian pilgrimage sites in the world and attracts six million visitors a year.
So why do so many Christians visit this amazing spiritual location?
The history of Lourdes
The story of Bernadette
Bernadette Soubirous was born into a poor family in 1844.
On a cold day in February 1858 when she was 14 years old, Bernadette was gathering wood for the fire. She saw a golden light within a grotto (named Massabielle) and a vision of the Virgin Mary, dressed in white with a blue sash and yellow roses at her feet.
Bernadette revisited the site many times between February and July and saw the vision on multiple occasions. The Virgin Mary spoke directly to her and told her that she was Mary mother of Jesus and that she wanted Bernadette to pray and make sacrifices for sinners.
The healing waters of Lourdes
On one occasion the Virgin Mary revealed an underground spring of pure water which flows to this day and is believed to have curative properties. Its healing capabilities were first reported in 1862 which began to attract pilgrims to the area and a railway link was added in 1866, opening up the site to many more visitors.
Bernadette went on to join holy orders where she remained until she died at the age of 35. She was canonised as a Saint by Pope Pius XI in 1933. The popularity of Lourdes continued to grow over the years until it became the focus of pilgrimage that it remains to this day.
Visiting Lourdes today
Many pilgrims visit Lourdes every year. The area is packed full of places to visit and here are just some of its spiritual highlights:
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes Massabielle
This is the grotto where Bernadette originally received her vision and where the spring was revealed to her. There are pools of spring water where pilgrims can bathe for healing purposes; 6 for men and 11 for women.
Marian candlelit procession
One of the highlights of a visit to Lourdes is the Marian candlelit processions which are held every night at 9pm between the Prairie and the Rosary Basilica.
The processions commemorate the third vision received by Bernadette when one of her companions was carrying a candle. Pilgrims carry their own candles and pray as they. Many sing the Ave Maria of Lourdes.
The Basilica of the Rosary
One of the most iconic features of the Lourdes skyline is the imposing Basilica of the Rosary.
It stands at the place where an original chapel was built at the site of the apparitions. The Basilica is built in the shape of a Greek cross and has a Byzantine influenced architectural style. It was constructed between 1883 and 1889.
The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
Perched on a rock above the grotto is the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Its elevated position means that it is often referred to as the ‘Upper Church’. Completed in 1872, it was designed by Hippolyte Durand and its architectural style is Neo-Gothic.
The Basilica’s stained glass windows tell the story of the life of the Virgin Mary and its bells ring out the Ave Maria of Lourdes on the hour.
We take regular tours to Lourdes and can arrange a bespoke trip for you and your party.