November 04, 2015 3 min read
The town of Lourdes doesn’t often get much notice outside of Christian religious circles, but it’s certainly worth a visit for those who don’t find themselves so spiritually inclined. This little town nestled at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains in southwestern France boasts some of the country’s most beautiful architecture and a history steeped in mystery and intrigue.
Catholics know Lourdes as the town where the Virgin Mary came down from the heavens and visited a poor beggar girl named Bernadette. The story goes that Bernadette was gathering wood on the outskirts of town when she came across a cave where Mary appeared. Townsfolk were skeptical, but Bernadette continued to visit the grotto and said that the Virgin Mary visited her 16 times before declaring herself the Immaculate Conception.
Henceforth, the townsfolk set forth to build an enormous chapel now known as The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, a shrine to the Virgin Mary that is one of the largest Catholic pilgrimage spots in the world. Roughly 5 million people visit the site each year hoping to receive blessings and miracles to cure them of their illnesses.
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