One of the most popular of all Roman Catholic shrines and reputed to be a place of miraculous healing, Lourdes is located in the region of the Hautes-Pyrιnιes in southwestern France.
Although Lourdes population is under 20,000, every year over 3,000,000 pilgrims including about 75,000 disabled people visit the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes and the springs, the waters of which are believed to have miraculous healing powers.
Everything begun between February 11 and July 16 of 1858, when fourteen year old Bernadette Soubirous (1843-1879) experienced eighteen visions at the grotto of Massabielle, in Lourdes. In her visions she spoke with a radiant woman who identified herself as the "Immaculate Conception," disclosing to the child a muddy spring, the waters of which she was supposed to drink and use to wash.
The apparition also conveyed a message stressing the necessity of prayer and penance for the conversion of humanity.
No mention of any of the spring miraculous properties was made by the apparition, but by the end of March of that year the bishop of Tarbes, in whose jurisdiction Lourdes was located, reported three cures. The reputation of Lourdes as a place of healing grew rapidly after that, despite the church's strenuous caution and demand for evidence of cures.
In 1862, following rigorous examination, the church declared the visions authentic and a chapel was erected at the site of the grotto and spring. Bernadette was canonized in 1933. Her feast is celebrated on April 6, and February 11 is dedicated to the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
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Sources: Article is scheduled to be reviewed.
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