Lourdes is the most visited shrine for Christian pilgrimage in the world. However, contrary to popular belief, it is not an ancient site but became a destination for pilgrims fairly recently. The importance of Lourdes came from an apparition of the Virgin Mary that occurred in 1858. Here are some fascinating facts about the religious significance of this town in France.
The season of pilgrimage runs from April to October every year, with the most significant date being 15th August and the Marian Feast of Assumption. Around 4-6 million pilgrims from across the globe visit the town, with over 200 million thought to have visited since 1860.
The apparition occurred some 18 times between February and July 1858, appearing as a robed woman in a small grotto known as Massabiele near Lourdes. The apparitions appeared for a fourteen-year-old girl called Bernadette Soubirous.
Bernadette received instructions from the robed lady that the local priest should construct a chapel in the grotto and many people would soon come and visit.
During the 16th appearance of the apparition, the robed lady revealed herself as the Virgin Mary. Bernadette was sent into an ecstatic trance and began digging in the grotto’s earth until she reached a puddle of water. The puddle grew larger over the following days and became the now iconic sacred spring of Lourdes.
In the beginning, the site was only known to those in the region but when news of incidents of healing began to spread, the therapeutic powers of the springs became known worldwide. For flights to Lourdes from Airports in Ireland, visit https://irelandwestairport.com/
The site grew so popular that it soon became overcrowded. In response to its growing global reputation, a grand basilica was constructed above the grotto to replace the former chapel and it was completed in 1958.
The pilgrims who visit Lourdes every year do so for the healing powers of Bernadette’s spring. They bathe in the waters and enjoy the restorative effects. All reported miracles are thoroughly examined and many are verified as exceptional examples of healing at the grotto’s springs.
The most apparitions of the Virgin Mary appear in Roman Catholic countries and are often experienced by young children between the ages of 6 and 12. The messages given to the children often contain information on world affairs, of which the children would have no prior knowledge. Some of the information and predictions have been remarkably accurate.
Visiting Lourdes is a special experience for many, with visitors buying special rosaries at the shrine of Saint Bernadette. The rosaries are made from glass, wood, crystal or pewter and some even contain some of the water from the spring. Also available are artist’s renditions of the apparition of the Lady of Lourdes. Many pilgrims enjoy organised tours of the town as well as the surrounding countryside.