Famous Places in France: Lourdes


In the south of France, close to the Pyrenees Mountains, there is a little town called Lourdes. 

There is a castle, and a river called Le Gave de Pau that runs through the town.

Millions of Christian pilgrims from all over the world visit this place every year.  Second to Paris, it is the most visited French town.

Why do so many people visit this town?

Inside a cave in Lourdes, there is a very special spring of water, discovered in 1858 by a young girl called Marie-Bernarde Soubirous.

The cave is called The Grotto of Massabielle.
The young girl had a series of visions at the entrance to the grotto.  In the visions she saw Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  On one occasion she was told to dig in a certain place inside the cave.  After digging with her hands, the spring of water began to flow.  

At that time, the grotto was a very dirty and muddy place nicknamed 'the pig-sty' because pigs used to shelter there.  Below is a drawing of the grotto as it was in 1858.


It is believed that the water of the grotto is very special and that it has miraculous healing powers.  It is said that many sick people have been cured by touching or drinking the water.  Every day, sick people visit this place in the hope that the water will cure them.

Many people gather some of the water in bottles to take home with them.
The young girl who discovered the spring is now called Saint Bernadette.  Below, is a photo of her. 

To learn more about St. Bernadette,

(Image from Wikimedia Commons, source: Lourdes Rosary Shrine)