On a gray February day more than 150 years ago, the fortunes of this small town in southern France changed forever when a 14-year-old girl named Bernadette Soubirous saw a radiant vision of a woman standing in the rock above her. Over the course of the next five months Bernadette would see the woman 17 more times, a series of visions that would make Lourdes the most famous healing shrine in the world and Bernadette a beloved saint.
Each year more than five million visitors from around the world come to Lourdes and stand before the same rock where Bernadette saw her mysterious visions. A long line of people slowly winds into the grotto, where they reverently touch the rock and leave photographs, flowers, and other tokens. Nearby is a place where pilgrims can collect water from the spring that flows out of the shrine, water that is said to have healing properties.
Did You Know? Sixty-six miraculous cures at Lourdes have been officially documented by the Roman Catholic Church, which maintains a Medical Bureau at the shrine.
For more information see A Pilgrimage to Lourdes