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All You Need to Know About Lourdes – France’s Biggest Catholic Pilgrimage Site

Lourdes Frances Biggest Catholic Pilgrimage

Lourdes, France is one of the most popular destinations in the world when it comes to religious significance and pilgrimage. It is located in the southwest of France, in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains.

Millions of tourists, both religious and not, visit the famous city every year. Its religious sites are visited for both pilgrimage or just to experience the amazing atmosphere the site has to offer. Even before the world-famous apparitions of the Virgin Mary in the 1800s, Lourdes has been famous for its magnificent fortified castle, Chateau fort de Lourdes, which is located on its outskirts.

After the Immaculate Conception first appeared before a peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous, Lourdes became a hotspot for religious pilgrimages. It has become one of, if not the most frequently visited pilgrimage sites in the world. 6 million people visit the city every year. Let’s look at the religious history of the city, learn more about who St. Bernadette is, and what you can do while you’re in the city of Lourdes.

Who is St. Bernadette of Lourdes?

For years now, Lourdes has been synonymous with the power of miracles and religious pilgrimage. The reason for this is the miraculous experiences of Bernadette Soubirous, now known as St. Bernadette of Lourdes.

In 1858, a young peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous was outside gathering firewood for her home.  While gathering, Bernadette stumbled into a grotto called Massabielle. In this grotto, she saw a vision of the Virgin Mary. The following weeks were incredible for young Bernadette, she experienced a total of 17 more apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

This was huge news for the town. In one of the apparitions, the Lady revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception. The Lady then requested a chapel to be built at Massabielle, the grotto where Bernadette first saw the apparition. This chapel’s purpose was to be visited by the faithful.

The Lady also instructed young Bernadette to drink at the spring in the grotto and wash in its waters. There was no spring visible in the grotto, even so, Bernadette dug out the soil and found it. To this day, the spring waters still continue to flow which provides thousands of gallons of water to provide for fountains and baths.

Today, the chapel is now a large two-level Basilica, which rises above the grotto. The Basilica can accommodate 2000 pilgrimage, however, this wasn’t enough for the number of people visiting every year. In the 1950s, the Underground Basilica of St. Pius X was built to accommodate around 25,000 pilgrims.

After multiple investigations by the Church and various bodies, Bernadette’s reports were declared “worthy of belief” on February 18, 1862. The first apparition in the garden grotto is now known as Our Lady of Lourdes. Saint Bernadette described the Blessed Mother as so beautiful that if you’ve had seen her, it’d be impossible to love anything else on the Earth.

St. Bernadette was declared venerable in 1913 by Pope Pius X and beatified on the 14th of June, 1925, by Pope Pius XI. She was declared a saint by Pope Pius XI on the 8th of December, 1933. Saint Bernadette is the patron saint of the poor, ill, sheep tenders, and individuals who are ridiculed for their faith.

The Holy Mother Church also recognizes St. Bernadette as a saint of common sense, simplicity, common sense, and Our Lady’s Little Confidante. Her official feast day is on the 18th of February. Miraculously, since her death, Saint Bernadette’s body has remained incorrupt.

The Holy Pilgrimage to Lourdes

Lourdes has been synonymous with religious pilgrimage since the miracle in the Grotto of Lourdes. But what is a pilgrimage, exactly?

A pilgrimage is most often than not a religious activity. In a pilgrimage, individuals called pilgrims travel long distances to reach a sacred place such as a shrine or temple. Millions of faithful individuals, especially Roman Catholics, visit the site every year. They come to experience the site where the visions of St. Bernadette took place. Pilgrims also come to be healed by its miraculous waters.

However, Christian pilgrims have also started to embark on the pilgrimage to visit and pray at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. They also worship at the grotto where the Lady appeared before St. Bernadette.

As for the legitimacy of the miracles, the International Medical Committee of Lourdes began in 1947 and is responsible for judging whether the healing miracles in Lourdes are real.  The Roman Catholic Church has recognized 69 miracle cases as real by 2015.

Lourdes’ Water and Its Miracles

The story of Lourdes and its miracles is famous across the world. Whether these stories are true remains on the individual’s beliefs. In this section, let’s look at some of the numerous miracle stories experienced by the faithful.

Mrs. Catherine Latapie

The first-ever miracle documented at Lourdes happened in 1858. A woman named Catherine Latapie felt an urge to visit Lourdes for healing. Two years before visiting, Catherine had an accident where she fell from a tree, injuring her right hand. This injury left two of her fingers permanently paralyzed.

Mrs. Latapie met Bernadette at the grotto, Bernadette instructed her to wash her hand in the spring that appeared. After washing them, the paralyzed fingers regained their movement in an instant.

Louis Bouriette

Another miracle that happened in Lourdes is to the old gentleman, Louis Bouriette. Mr. Bouriette was 55 years of age when he visited Lourdes in 1858. A mine explosion rendered his right eye blind; the same explosion killed his brother who was standing at his side. Mr. Bouriette also washed his right eye in the spring and prayed to Our Lady of the Grotto for a cure.

After washing his eye, the vision came back completely. In 1862, the miracle cure was deemed by the medical community as of “supernatural character.”

Serge Francois

The miracle of Serge Francois is the most recent approved miracles at Lourdes. Mr. Francois was 56 years of age when he embarked on the pilgrimage to Lourdes seeking healing. Two surgeries on his left leg left it completely immobile due to a herniated disc.

Mr. Serge Francois performed the customary ritual when arriving at the shrine in the grotto. He washed his face and drank from the spring waters. He completed this pilgrimage in April 2002. After this, his left leg began healing itself. He fully recovered in 2003, where he approached the medical board to investigate the phenomena. This request was approved by the Bishop Emmanuel Delmas of Angers, France in 2011.

Things You Can Do While in Lourdes

Lourdes, France is a wonderful place to visit for both religious and enjoyment purposes. The city is rich in history, with a beautiful sense of piety and purity. Here are some of the things you should definitely do whenever you decide to visit Lourdes.

Visit The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes

A trip to Lourdes isn’t complete without visiting the world-famous Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. This is where the religious tourism of Lourdes all began. This place is a hot-spot for devoted pilgrims from all over the world. However, even if you aren’t as devoted, it is still worth visiting for the atmosphere alone.

Visit a Popular Museum – The Pyrenean Museum

The Pyrenean Museum is also worth a visit if you’re interested in the rich history of the area. It is located in the Chateau-Fort De Lourdes, a huge medieval castle. Inside the museum is a collection of various artworks and artifacts from the region. These include beautiful paintings and drawings.

Enjoy the View of Lourdes from Funiculaire du Pic du Jer

Take a trip to Funiculaire du Pic du Jer to get one of the best views of Lourdes and the peaks of the Pyrenees mountains. This place is perfect for photos and can easily become your new profile picture on social media. The way up can be a long trip, taking around three hours but it is worth it for the scenic views on the way up.

Learn About St. Bernadette Soubirous’ life at Moulin de Boly

Moulin de Boly is the birthplace of St. Bernadette and is located at the heart of Lourdes. It was originally a water mill; the place was renovated in 2012. It is now a museum that features a kitchen, a bedroom, and a water mill. There are informative tours available for tourists looking to learn more about St. Bernadette Soubirous’ life.

Visit the Chateau-Fort De Lourdes

Bask in the majestic Chateau-Fort De Lourdes, an old medieval castle that is perched atop a rocky cliff. You can enjoy the views of the Pyrenees mountains inside of this millennium-old castle.

Chemin de Croix – The Way of the Cross

If you’re planning to go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, the Chemin de Croix – The Way of the Cross is an essential part of the journey. It is a famous 1.5-kilometer route that runs along a wooded hillside. It features 15 different stations that depict the journey of Jesus Christ on his way to his crucifixion.

How to Get to Lourdes

If you’re planning to go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, the Chemin de Croix – The Way of the Cross is an essential part of the journey. It is a famous 1.5-kilometer route that runs along a wooded hillside. It features 15 different stations that depict the journey of Jesus Christ on his way to his crucifixion.


That is our article on everything you need to know about Lourdes. We hope that you’ve learned something new by reading the article. We hope that you enjoy your trip to Lourdes whenever you decide to go.

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