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Home Page > Travelogues > France > Lourdes 

Subchapters in this Travelogue:  Lourdes Sanctuary ] Pont Vieux ] Fort and City ] Pilgrimage Day 1 ] Pilgrimage Day 2 ] Pilgrimage Day 3 ]


Lourdes -- Site of the Apparitions of St. Bernadette


Growing up in a pre-dominantly Catholic part of New England, I had heard of Lourdes several times.  The stories were fascinating on one Lourdes Sanctuaryhand, but seemingly far-fetched and bizarre.  There was a "grotto," which was described to me as a "pool of water," that had mystical healing powers.  Everyone who walked through the pool was cured of all their illnesses and injuries.  It sounded like a tall tale to my youthful ears... {naw, no such place existed,} I thought.  But, I didn't recall getting the full story.  What was Lourdes, I wondered?

In 2005, I finally got the full story and understood it, and it was more than just about the pool.  Lourdes was the site of the famous apparitions before St. Bernadette Souribous roughly 150 years ago.  As a child, Bernadette was a poor and supposedly mentally-challenged girl whose family had fallen on poor luck.  While with a sibling down along some caves (the 'grotto') along the River Gave west of town, the Virgin Mary appeared before her wearing a white robe with a light blue sash.  Despite intense inquisition from town and church authorities, Bernadette stuck to her story.  Over tThe Fort above Lourdesime she would see the Virgin Mary at the same spot again and again.  Following that came a miracle healings of sick people bathing in the waters near the grotto.  Word spread.  People believed, and began flocking to Lourdes in tremendous numbers.  This continued to modern times as turned the city of Lourdes had changed from a simple mountain village near the border with Spain into one of the great shrines and gathering places of the Catholic faith. 

That is probably the best way to describe Lourdes, a shrine and gathering place for Catholics all over the world.  It has become a major pilgrimage site, with thousands upon thousands flocking there every spring, summer, and fall.  Some go specifically to bathe there in hopes of healing, while others go to be among their faithful brethren in prayer and reflection, and still others simply go to see what it was all about.  I considered myself in the third category when I went.

Lourdes reserves several weekends in the year for special pilgrimages, and it was one of these we attended together.  The Pčlerinage Militaire International or IScene from the Marian Procession on Night 2 of the Pilgrimagenternational Military Pilgrimage was held annually one weekend each May, bringing together Catholic Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen from all over the world.  The 2005 event conveniently fell on the American Memorial Weekend, which made it easier for us to attend.  It was one of the greatest events we ever participated in, filled with parades, ceremonies, Masses, prayer, and fellowship.  Meanwhile, Lourdes herself was a terrific mountain city with gorgeous scenery and plenty of things to do.

This travelogue has six subordinate chapters -- three describing the events of the pilgrimage and three devoted to the city.  We broke the former up by time -- Day 1 that included our journey there, Day 2's events, and the events of the second night and Day 3.  We divided the city up geographically -- the Lourdes Sanctuary that included the Basilica, the baths, and the most extraordinary Stations of the Cross display in the world; the Pont Vieux chapter that covered the immediate surroundings and river zone along with the museums dedicated to Bernadette and the Souribous family; and the Fort and City in the center of Lourdes herself.  You can access the chapters by clicking on the regions of the map or the photos and labels below.


If the above map doesn't appear or work properly, click here for the chapters:  Lourdes Sanctuary ] Pont Vieux ] Fort and City ] Pilgrimage Day 1 ] Pilgrimage Day 2 ] Pilgrimage Day 3 ]



Trip taken 25-27 May 2004-- Page Last Updated 14 October 2006 -- (C) 2006 Tom Galvin

Subchapters in this Travelogue:  Lourdes Sanctuary ] Pont Vieux ] Fort and City ] Pilgrimage Day 1 ] Pilgrimage Day 2 ] Pilgrimage Day 3 ]


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