Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Grotto of Massabielle with Mass schedule

Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes, Avenue Monseigneur Théas, Lurd, Francija

Website of the Sanctuary

+33 (0)5 62 42 78 78

Every day: from 6.00 am to 11.00 pm

Several churches and basilicas in Lourdes associated with Marian apparitions receive over 5 million pilgrims a year, making Lourdes the second most visited Christian pilgrimage site in Europe after Rome.

Each year, 700 tons of candles burn for you and those who have not been able to come. The volutes of smoke represent millions of intentions of prayers and wishes. Also, light is a very important sign in the sacred history.

The water of Lourdes has become popular because of the miracles. 50 official miracles are apparently linked to the use of this water, no matter if it has been drunk or used as a bath. Men have created the fountains, the baths and the way of the water

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See our guide how to get Free Lourdes water: the quickest and the cheapest way.

Our Lady of Lourdes

We call «Message of Lourdes» the gestures and words that were exchanged between Virgin Mary and Bernadette Soubirous, at the Grotto of Massabielle, during the time of the eighteen apparitions. 

God comes to tell us that he loves us, – this is the heart of the Message of Our Lady of Lourdes, and he loves us as we are with all our successes but also with all our wounds, our weaknesses and our limitations.

Thursday 11th. February 1858 : the first meeting: Accompanied by her sister and a friend, Bernadette went to Massabielle on the banks of the Gave to collect bones and dead wood. Removing her socks in order to cross the stream, she heard a noise like a gust of wind, she looked up towards the Grotto:

“I SAW A LADY DRESSED IN WHITE, SHE WORE A WHITE DRESS, AN EQUALLY WHITE VEIL, A BLUE BELT AND A YELLOW ROSE ON EACH FOOT.” Bernadette made the Sign of the Cross and said the Rosary with the lady. When the prayer ended, Our Lady of Lourdes suddenly vanished.

See our guide how to get Free Lourdes water: the quickest and the cheapest way.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Grotto of Massabielle

Our Lady of Lourdes mass schedule

  • 9.00 am Daily Mass in English at the Crux Gloriosa Chapel

Selection of:

Lourdes medals

Lourdes pendants and jewelry

Lourdes rosaries

Lourdes image

Lourdes statues

Guides and tours in Lourdes:

History of Apparitions in Lourdes

Thursday 11th. February 1858 : the first meeting: Accompanied by her sister and a friend, Bernadette went to Massabielle on the banks of the Gave to collect bones and dead wood. Removing her socks in order to cross the stream, she heard a noise like a gust of wind, she looked up towards the Grotto:

“I SAW A LADY DRESSED IN WHITE, SHE WORE A WHITE DRESS, AN EQUALLY WHITE VEIL, A BLUE BELT AND A YELLOW ROSE ON EACH FOOT.” Bernadette made the Sign of the Cross and said the Rosary with the lady. When the prayer ended the Lady suddenly vanished.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Grotto of Massabielle

Sunday 14th. February: Holy Water: Bernadette felt an inner force drawing her to the Grotto in spite of the fact that she was forbidden to go there by her parents. At her insistence, her mother allowed her; after the first decade of the Rosary, she saw the same lady appearing. She sprinkled holy water at her. The lady smiled and bent her head. When the Rosary ended she disappeared.

Thursday 18 th. February: The lady speaks: For the first time, the Lady spoke. Bernadette held out a pen and paper asking her to write her name. She replied; “It is not necessary” and she added: “I do not promise to make you happy in this world but in the other. Would you be kind enough to come here for a fortnight?”

Friday 19th. February: Short and silent Apparition: Bernadette came to the Grotto with a lighted blessed candle. This is the origin of carrying candles and lighting them in front of the Grotto.

Saturday 20th. February: In silence: The lady taught her a personal prayer. At the end of the vision Bernadette is overcome with a great sadness.

Sunday 21st. February: “Aquéro”: The Lady appeared to Bernadette very early in the morning. About one hundred people were present. Afterwards the Police Commissioner, Jacomet, questioned her. He wanted Bernadette to tell what she saw. Bernadette would only speak of “AQUÉRO” (“that thing” in local dialect)

Tuesday 23rd. February: The secret: Surrounded by 150 persons, Bernadette arrived at the Grotto. The Apparition reveals to her a secret “only for her alone”.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Grotto of Massabielle

Wednesday 24th. February: Penance: The message of the Lady: “Penance! Penance! Penance! Pray to God for sinners. Kiss the ground as an act of penance for sinners!”

Thursday 25th. February: The spring: Three hundred people were present. Bernadette relates; “She told me to go, drink of the spring (….) I only found a little muddy water. At the fourth attempt I was able to drink. She also made me eat the bitter herbs that were found near the spring, and then the vision left and went away.” In front of the crowd that was asking “Do you think that she is mad doing things like that?” she replied; “It is for sinners.”

Saturday 27th. February: Silence: Eight hundred people were present. The Apparition was silent. Bernadette drank the water from the spring and carried out her usual acts of penance.

Sunday 28th. February: Penance: Over one thousand people were present at the ecstasy. Bernadette prayed, kissed the ground and moved on her knees as a sign of penance. She was then taken to the house of Judge Ribes who threatened to put her in prison.

Monday 1st. March: The First Miracle: Over one thousand five hundred people assembled and among them, for the first time, a priest. In the night, Catherine Latapie, a friend from Lourdes, went to the Grotto, she plunged her dislocated arm into the water of the Spring: her arm and her hand regained their movement.

Tuesday 2nd. March: Message to the priests: The crowd becomes larger and larger. The Lady asked her: “Go, tell the priests to come here in procession and to build a chapel here.” Bernadette spoke of this to Fr. Peyramale, the Parish Priest of Lourdes. He wanted to know only one thing: the Lady’s name. He demanded another test; to see the wild rose bush flower at the Grotto in the middle of winter.

Wednesday 3rd. March: A smile: From 7 o’clock in the morning, in the presence of three thousand people, Bernadette arrived at the Grotto, but the vision did not appear! After school, she heard the inner invitation of the Lady. She went to the Grotto and asked her again for her name. The response was a smile. The Parish Priest told her again: “If the Lady really wishes that a chapel be built, then she must tell us her name and make the rose bush bloom at the Grotto.”

Thursday 4th. March: The day all were waiting for: The ever-greater crowd (about eight thousand people) waited for a miracle at the end of the fortnight.
The vision was silent. Fr. Peyramale stuck to his position. For twenty days Bernadette did not go to the Grotto, she no longer felt the irresistible invitation.

Thursday 25th. March: The name they awaited for: The vision finally revealed her name, but the wild rose bush, on which she stood during the Apparitions, did not bloom. Bernadette recounted; “She lifted up her eyes to heaven, joined her hands as though in prayer, that were held out and open towards the ground and said to me:

Que soy era Immaculada Concepciou (I am the Immaculate Conception) .”

The young visionary left and, running all the way, repeated continuously the words that she did not understand. These words troubled the brave Parish Priest. Bernadette was ignorant of the fact that this theological expression was assigned to the Blessed Virgin. Four years earlier, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared this a truth of the Catholic Faith (a dogma)

Wednesday 7th. April: The miracle of the candle: During this Apparition, Bernadette had to keep her candle alight. The flame licked along her hand without burning it. A medical doctor, Dr. Douzous, immediately witnessed this fact.

Thursday 16th. July: The Final Apparition: Bernadette received the mysterious call to the Grotto, but her way was blocked and closed off by a barrier. She thus, arrived across from the Grotto to the other side of the Gave. “I felt that I was in front of the Grotto, at the same distance as before, I saw only the Blessed Virgin, and she was more beautiful than ever

30 years after her death, the cause of the Beatification of Bernadette required that her body be exhumed. When it was exhumed in September 1909, April 1919 and again in April 1925 it was found intact.

Since 3rd August 1925 the body of Bernadette is preserved in a shrine in the chapel of what was known as the Convent of St. Gildard of Nevers. It is now known as “Espace Bernadette Soubirous – Nevers”.

Top 15 recommended hotels near Lourdes Sanctuary

The body of Bernadette is, according to doctors, “mummified”. Only a few relics have been removed. A very thin film of wax has been laid on her face and hands and moulded directly onto her features. See Top 15 Catholic shrines around the world.

Coming to reflect before the body of Bernadette, the pilgrim sees, to-day, the face that 18 times looked on the Immaculate heart of Virgin Mary – Our Lady of Lourdes, the hands that, at the request of the Blessed Virgin, had scraped the ground and allowed the spring to flow at the back of the Grotto, the lips that related the words of the Immaculate heart of Mary and the Message of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Grotto of Massabielle

Lourdes in the 19th century

Lourdes in the 19th century was one of the main places in the district with more than 4,000 inhabitants including nobles, notaries, advocates, doctors, officers as well as manual workers, tradesmen, slate workers, small artisans such as millers.

Mills were plentiful; many were dotted around outside the town, along one of the streams that flowed into the Gave – the Lapacca. Bernadette Soubirous was born in one of these, the Boly Mill, on 7th. January 1844.

The bankrupt family were living in the Cachot. On 11th. February 1858 Bernadette, her sister Toinette and a friend of theirs, Jeanne, went looking for wood on the meadows and led towards “the place where the canal rejoins the River Gave”.

They were in front of the Grotto of Massabielle. Toinette and Jeanne crossed the icy water, crying out with the cold; Bernadette hesitated to do this because of her chronic asthma. She heard “a noise like a gust of wind”, but “none of the trees were moving”.

“Raising her head, she saw, in a hollow of the rock a small young lady, who looked at her and who smiled at her. This was the first Apparition of the Virgin Mary

At the time of Bernadette, the Grotto was a dirty, hidden, damp and cold place. The Grotto was called the “pigs’ shelter” because that was where the pigs feeding in the area usually took shelter. It was there that the Virgin Mary, dressed in white, a sign of total purity, the sign of the Love of God, in other words, the sign of what God wishes to accomplish in each of us, deigned to appear.

There is a contrast between this damp and obscure Grotto and the presence of the Virgin Mary, “the Immaculate Conception”.

It reminds us of the Gospel: the meeting of the wealth of the goodness of God and the poverty of the human person. “Jesus goes to sit at the table of sinners”, “because he came to search out that which was lost”.

At Lourdes, the fact that Our Lady of Lourdes had appeared in a dirty and obscure Grotto, in the place called Massabielle, the Old Rock, tells us that God comes to join us where we are, in the midst of our poverty and failures.

The Grotto is not only a place where something happened – a geographical place – it is also a place where God gives us a sign by revealing his heart and our heart. It is a place where God leaves us a message, a message that is nothing other than that of the Gospel.

God comes to tell us that he loves us, – this is the heart of the Message of Our Lady of Lourdes, and he loves us as we are with all our successes but also with all our wounds, our weaknesses and our limitations.

Should you come to Lourdes with children, encourage them to take part in the beautiful Prayer Vigil specially adapted for them.

Prayer can be taught. A pilgrimage to Lourdes, one of the most important centres of prayer, is an ideal opportunity to teach children the joy of prayer. As in many other apparition sites, it is to a child that the Virgin Mary appeared. The prayer of a child is precious in her eyes, even though, as is often pointed out, at 14 years of age Bernadette only knew the ‘Our Father’ and ‘Hail Mary’.

Therefore children are invited to attend a Prayer Vigil to enable them to learn to pray like Bernadette and share this experience with other children of their own age.

Adoration

You can spend some time in personal and silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a monstrance. A restful time of prayer.

Eucharistic Adoration is available every day in the Sanctuary of Lourdes at different times and locations according to the time of the year. During the pilgrimage season, adoration follows the Eucharistic Procession at 5.00pm in the Basilica of Saint Pius X.

It also takes place every evening between 11.30pm and midnight from April to October at the Grotto of the Apparitions after the 11.00pm Mass.

The Way of the Cross

The Way of the Cross is a way of prayer. Believers do it in a spirit of penance and reparation for the forgiveness of sins. This devotion is particularly important in Lourdes.

For the past 2000 years Christians have set out to follow the path of Jesus to the place of his crucifixion. As every one cannot go to Jerusalem, it has been common since the Middle Ages to depict the stations of the Cross in churches, in chapels and even in the open air as here in Lourdes.

THE UPPER WAY OF THE CROSS
The Upper Way of the Cross of the Espélugues winds its way around a steep and forested site. In its size it reflects the magnitude of the Sanctuary of Lourdes: 115 figures in patinated cast iron depict the fifteen stations on a path 1,500 meters in length.

THE WAY OF THE CROSS ON THE PRAIRIE
In 2001, Mgr Jacques Perrier, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, requested the creation of a new Way of the Cross accessible to pilgrims with reduced mobility. This Way of the Cross is the work of the artist Maria de Faykod. Each Station was financed by generous benefactors.

Visiting the Grotto of the Apparitions

Walk towards the Grotto of the Apparitions and enter beneath the rock: you will see the spring and the famous statue of Our Lady of Lourdes; an unforgettable experience. The Grotto is the site of the extraordinary events which took place in 1858.

The Grotto of the Apparitions is the heart of the Sanctuary.

The spring and the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes within it are the centre of attention of all the pilgrims. The Grotto, by itself, says much about the Message of Lourdes. A hollow in the rock, it echoes the words of the Bible: “The Lord is my rock, my salvation, my citadel” (Psalm 62:7).

The rock is black and the sun never penetrates the Grotto, in contrast with the Apparition (the Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception), who is only light and smiling radiantly. The niche where the statue is placed marks the place where the Virgin Mary most often stood: it is like a window that opens onto the kingdom of God from this obscure world.

Placing a candle

Why light a candle in Lourdes? By placing a candle at the Sanctuary, near the Grotto, you also leave your prayer intentions; you remember your loved ones…

On 19th February 1858, at the fourth Apparition, Bernadette arrived at the Grotto for the first time with a blessed candle. She held it in her hands up to the end. It is from this gesture that the custom of lighting candles was born. Following her example, you are invited to light and burn your candles on the right bank of the Gave, in the Chapel of Light, which is conducive to meditation and prayer. Pope Francis said : “Many works become dark because of lack of light and lack of prayer. Prayer is what maintains light, what gives life to the Christian light, what illuminates”.

Drinking at the Fountains

At the Fountains of the Sanctuary fed by the water from the Grotto of the Apparitions, you can respond to the invitation of the Virgin Mary: “Go and drink at the Spring”.

The spring that flows in the Grotto, and which feeds the fountains of the Sanctuary, was uncovered by Bernadette Soubirous during the Apparitions of 1858 on the indications of the Virgin Mary. At the fountains, you can drink Lourdes water, splash it on your face, arms, legs … As at the Grotto, it is not so much the gesture that counts, but the faith or the intention behind it.

Walking the Path of Consolation

Let yourself be comforted through this inner journey, primarily for those who have lost a child.

The Path of Consolation is a spiritual journey devised in collaboration with the Mère de Miséricorde Association.

Situated below the Upper Way of the Cross (of the Espélugues), it ends in a specially adapted grotto called the ‘Grotto of the Two Marys’, a memorial dedicated to unborn children who have died. At the end of their journey the parents can give their unborn child a name and write it on a ‘Book of Life’.

Going to the Baths

For your attention, work in progress! As an exceptional measure the Baths of the Sanctuary will be closed from 30th October 2017 to 23rd March 2018 (last phase of the Grotto Heart of Lourdes Project). www.projetgrottecoeurdelourdes.com

An alternative to the Baths during their closure: the water gesture

From 30th October 2017 to 23rd March 2018, during the period of closure of the Baths for works, the hospitaliers will welcome and guide you to accomplish the water gesture requested of Bernadette Soubirous by the Virgin Mary. Where?

In front of the new fountains in the Sanctuary (in case of rain, inside the large sacristy of the Grotto). When ? From 13th November 2017 to 23rd March 2018 (from Monday to Saturday): 10.00am-11.00am / 2.30pm- 3.30pm Extended hours on : 1st January 2018, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th February 2018: 9.30am-11.30am / 2.00pm-4.00pm.

Enter a bath filled with water from the spring that flows in the Grotto of the Apparitions and experience something unique.

“Go and drink at the spring and wash yourself there!” these words of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette during one of the Apparitions inspired the creation of the Baths near the Grotto in which the pilgrims are immersed. Whether a believer or not, you are all invited to this very profound experience.

Participating in the Marian procession

Please note the following changes for the last days of the 2017 pilgrimage season: from Thursday 26st October to Sunday 5th November 9.00pm- torchlight Rosary at the Grotto (no procession)

Come and sing the Ave Maria of Lourdes every evening at 9.00pm with believers from all over the world. This is one of the most popular events in Lourdes.

Don’t miss the evening Torchlight Procession. As early as 18th February 1858, the day of the third Apparition, one of the two people accompanying Bernadette had carried a candle. After this, Bernadette herself always came with a candle.

The iconic Lourdes Torchlight Procession, known throughout the world, was introduced in Lourdes in 1863 by Father Marie-Antoine, a Capuchin also known as the ‘Saint of Toulouse’. The Marian Procession is the most popular celebration in Lourdes. Pilgrims come with their banners and sick pilgrims are always anxious to attend when they can.

ACCESS TO THE SANCTUARY – OPEN DAILY

ST. JOSEPH’S GATE & CRYPT
from 6.00 am until 10.00 pm
ST. MICHAEL’S GATES
from 9.30 am until 5.30 pm

Our Lady of Lourdes mass schedule

9.00 am Daily Mass in English
at the St Jean Marie Vianney Chapel

Rosary AT THE GROTTO

On monday and wednesday at 2:30 pm (in english). Everyday at 3:30 pm (in French)

AT THE GROTTO
Everyday at 8:30 pm (only during school holidays*)

WAYS OF THE CROSS

HIGH AND LOW STATIONS
Open: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

Chapel of Reconciliation

Confessions in English everyday 10:00 am – 11:00 am and 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

ADORATION

Midday – 4:00 pm In the Crypt
4:00 pm Prayer and Benediction

THE WAY OF BERNADETTE

Birthplace of Bernadette
The Boly Mill 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

During school holidays*:
10:00 am – midday
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

The Cachot 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
During school holidays*:
10:00 am – midday
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

The Parish Church, Baptismal font
8:30 am – 7:00 pm

The Hospice
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

HOW TO GET THERE

BY CAR

The Sanctuary of Lourdes is accessed directly (15 km) by the A 64 motorway: exit “Lourdes” (n°12 Tarbes-Ouest), then RN 21.

  • Bordeaux-Lourdes via the A 65 then the A 64 and the RN 21 = 2h30
  • Toulouse-Lourdes via the A 65 then the RN 21 = 2h

There are numerous free parking facilities in town and in the vicinity of the Sanctuary.

Plan of the traffic flow in Lourdes for the 2017 season.

BY TRAIN

Lourdes has a train station served by the TGV and regional trains. The Sanctuary is less than 10 minutes walk from the train station.
– Paris-Lourdes (5h30 by TGV): 4 return services each day
– Direct rail links: Bordeaux / Toulouse / Montpellier / Marseille / Nice / Lyon / Hendaye /Geneva / Irun
See the internet site of the Lourdes train station

BY PLANE

The International Airport Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées is situated 10 km north of the Sanctuary of Lourdes.

  • 3 daily flights to Paris-Orly
  • 2 to 5 weekly return flights to London Stansted
  • 2 weekly flights to Brussels from April to October
  • 2 weekly flights to Milan Bergamo
  • 2 weekly flights to Rome Fumicino from May to October
  • 2 weekly flights to Rome Ciampino from April to October
  • 2 weekly flights to Krakov from April to October

See the website of the Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrenees Airport

Other nearby Airports: Pau-Pyrénées (45 km west of Lourdes) and Toulouse-Blagnac (150 km East of Lourdes)

ON FOOT

Lourdes is on the Camino of Saint James of Compostela. There are several signposted routes: the GR 101 and the GR 78.
See the website of the Association of the Friends of the Way in the High Pyrenees

We call «Message of Lourdes» the gestures and words that were exchanged between Virgin Mary and Bernadette Soubirous, at the Grotto of Massabielle, during the time of the eighteen apparitions. This message can be heard as: God is love and he loves us as we are.

Lourdes in the 19th. Century was one of the main places in the district with more than 4,000 inhabitants including nobles, notaries, advocates, doctors, officers as well as manual workers, tradesmen, slate workers, small artisans such as millers.

Mills were plentiful; many were dotted around outside the town, along one of the streams that flowed into the Gave – the Lapacca. Bernadette Soubirous was born in one of these, the Boly Mill, on 7th. January 1844. The bankrupt family were living in the Cachot.

On 11th. February 1858 Bernadette, her sister Toinette and a friend of theirs, Jeanne, went looking for wood on the meadows and led towards “the place where the canal rejoins the River Gave”.

They were in front of the Grotto of Massabielle. Toinette and Jeanne crossed the icy water, crying out with the cold; Bernadette hesitated to do this because of her chronic asthma.

She heard “a noise like a gust of wind”, but “none of the trees were moving”. “Raising her head, she saw, in a hollow of the rock a small young lady, who looked at her and who smiled at her. This was the first Apparition of the Virgin Mary

At the time of Bernadette, the Grotto was a dirty, hidden, damp and cold place. The Grotto was called the “pigs’ shelter” because that was where the pigs feeding in the area usually took shelter.

It was there that the Virgin Mary, dressed in white, a sign of total purity, the sign of the Love of God, in other words, the sign of what God wishes to accomplish in each of us, deigned to appear.

There is a contrast between this damp and obscure Grotto and the presence of the Virgin Mary, “the Immaculate Conception”. It reminds us of the Gospel: the meeting of the wealth of the goodness of God and the poverty of the human person. “Jesus goes to sit at the table of sinners”, “because he came to search out that which was lost”.

At Lourdes, the fact that Mary had appeared in a dirty and obscure Grotto, in the place called Massabielle, the Old Rock, tells us that God comes to join us where we are, in the midst of our poverty and failures.

The Grotto is not only a place where something happened – a geographical place – it is also a place where God gives us a sign by revealing his heart and our heart. It is a place where God leaves us a message, a message that is nothing other than that of the Gospel.

God comes to tell us that he loves us, – this is the heart of the Message of Lourdes, and he loves us as we are with all our successes but also with all our wounds, our weaknesses and our limitations

HOW TO GET THERE

BY CAR

The Sanctuary of Lourdes is accessed directly (15 km) by the A 64 motorway: exit “Lourdes” (n°12 Tarbes-Ouest), then RN 21.

  • Bordeaux-Lourdes via the A 65 then the A 64 and the RN 21 = 2h30
  • Toulouse-Lourdes via the A 65 then the RN 21 = 2h

There are numerous free parking facilities in town and in the vicinity of the Sanctuary.

Plan of the traffic flow in Lourdes for the 2017 season.

BY TRAIN

Lourdes has a train station served by the TGV and regional trains. The Sanctuary is less than 10 minutes walk from the train station.
– Paris-Lourdes (5h30 by TGV): 4 return services each day
– Direct rail links: Bordeaux / Toulouse / Montpellier / Marseille / Nice / Lyon / Hendaye /Geneva / Irun
See the internet site of the Lourdes train station

BY PLANE

The International Airport Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées is situated 10 km north of the Sanctuary of Lourdes.

  • 3 daily flights to Paris-Orly
  • 2 to 5 weekly return flights to London Stansted
  • 2 weekly flights to Brussels from April to October
  • 2 weekly flights to Milan Bergamo
  • 2 weekly flights to Rome Fumicino from May to October
  • 2 weekly flights to Rome Ciampino from April to October
  • 2 weekly flights to Krakov from April to October

See the website of the Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrenees Airport

Other nearby Airports: Pau-Pyrénées (45 km west of Lourdes) and Toulouse-Blagnac (150 km East of Lourdes)

ON FOOT

Lourdes is on the Camino of Saint James of Compostela. There are several signposted routes: the GR 101 and the GR 78.
See the website of the Association of the Friends of the Way in the High Pyrenees

Bernadette Soubirous

When one describes the Apparitions, Bernadette is often presented as a poor frail and ignorant girl, living in miserable conditions in the Cachot. 

True, but it was not always thus.  When she was born on 7th January, 1844, at the Boly Mill, she was the first child and heiress, of Francois Soubirous and Louise Casterot who married for love. 

Bernadette grew up in a close-knit family in which she was cherished.  Ten years of happiness in the decisive early years of her childhood made her strong and surprisingly balanced.   

Her accounts of the Apparitions were precise, never adding or retracting anything.  A single occasion, taken aback by the severity of Father Peyramale, she added a word:  “Father, the Lady always asks for a chapel….even a very small one.”  In his pastoral letter on the Apparitions, Mgr Laurence emphasized “the simplicity, the candour, the modesty of this child…she recounts it without affectation, with a touching innocence…and to all the questions put to her, without hesitation, she gave clear, precise responses, impressed with a strong conviction.” 

Unaffected both by threats and attempts to bribe her with advantageous offers,  “Bernadette’s sincerity is irrefutable: she has not wanted to make a mistake.”  “But has she herself been mistaken? 

Victim of an hallucination?” the bishop wondered.  He recalled her calmness, her good sense, the absence in her of any exaltation and also the fact that the Apparitions did not depend on Bernadette. They happened without Bernadette expecting them, and in the fortnight, twice, when Bernadette went to the Grotto, the Lady was not there.  

She died at Nevers on 16th April, 1879, aged 35.  The Church proclaimed her a saint on 8th December , 1933, not for having been chosen for the Apparitions  , but for the way in which she responded to that grace.

Adoration

You can spend some time in personal and silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a monstrance. A restful time of prayer.

Eucharistic Adoration is available every day in the Sanctuary of Lourdes at different times and locations according to the time of the year. During the pilgrimage season, adoration follows the Eucharistic Procession at 5.00pm in the Basilica of Saint Pius X.

It also takes place every evening between 11.30pm and midnight from April to October at the Grotto of the Apparitions after the 11.00pm Mass.

The Way of the Cross

The Way of the Cross is a way of prayer. Believers do it in a spirit of penance and reparation for the forgiveness of sins. This devotion is particularly important in Lourdes.

For the past 2000 years Christians have set out to follow the path of Jesus to the place of his crucifixion. As every one cannot go to Jerusalem, it has been common since the Middle Ages to depict the stations of the Cross in churches, in chapels and even in the open air as here in Lourdes.

THE UPPER WAY OF THE CROSS
The Upper Way of the Cross of the Espélugues winds its way around a steep and forested site. In its size it reflects the magnitude of the Sanctuary of Lourdes: 115 figures in patinated cast iron depict the fifteen stations on a path 1,500 meters in length.

THE WAY OF THE CROSS ON THE PRAIRIE
In 2001, Mgr Jacques Perrier, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, requested the creation of a new Way of the Cross accessible to pilgrims with reduced mobility. This Way of the Cross is the work of the artist Maria de Faykod. Each Station was financed by generous benefactors.

Visiting the Grotto of the Apparitions

Walk towards the Grotto of the Apparitions and enter beneath the rock: you will see the spring and the famous statue of Our Lady of Lourdes; an unforgettable experience. The Grotto is the site of the extraordinary events which took place in 1858.

The Grotto of the Apparitions is the heart of the Sanctuary.

The spring and the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes within it are the centre of attention of all the pilgrims. The Grotto, by itself, says much about the Message of Lourdes. A hollow in the rock, it echoes the words of the Bible: “The Lord is my rock, my salvation, my citadel” (Psalm 62:7).

The rock is black and the sun never penetrates the Grotto, in contrast with the Apparition (the Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception), who is only light and smiling radiantly. The niche where the statue is placed marks the place where the Virgin Mary most often stood: it is like a window that opens onto the kingdom of God from this obscure world.

Placing a candle

Why light a candle in Lourdes? By placing a candle at the Sanctuary, near the Grotto, you also leave your prayer intentions; you remember your loved ones…

On 19th February 1858, at the fourth Apparition, Bernadette arrived at the Grotto for the first time with a blessed candle. She held it in her hands up to the end. It is from this gesture that the custom of lighting candles was born. Following her example, you are invited to light and burn your candles on the right bank of the Gave, in the Chapel of Light, which is conducive to meditation and prayer. Pope Francis said : “Many works become dark because of lack of light and lack of prayer. Prayer is what maintains light, what gives life to the Christian light, what illuminates”.

Drinking at the Fountains

At the Fountains of the Sanctuary fed by the water from the Grotto of the Apparitions, you can respond to the invitation of the Virgin Mary: “Go and drink at the Spring”.

The spring that flows in the Grotto, and which feeds the fountains of the Sanctuary, was uncovered by Bernadette Soubirous during the Apparitions of 1858 on the indications of the Virgin Mary. At the fountains, you can drink Lourdes water, splash it on your face, arms, legs … As at the Grotto, it is not so much the gesture that counts, but the faith or the intention behind it.

Walking the Path of Consolation

Let yourself be comforted through this inner journey, primarily for those who have lost a child.

The Path of Consolation is a spiritual journey devised in collaboration with the Mère de Miséricorde Association.

Situated below the Upper Way of the Cross (of the Espélugues), it ends in a specially adapted grotto called the ‘Grotto of the Two Marys’, a memorial dedicated to unborn children who have died. At the end of their journey the parents can give their unborn child a name and write it on a ‘Book of Life’.

Going to the Baths

For your attention, work in progress! As an exceptional measure the Baths of the Sanctuary will be closed from 30th October 2017 to 23rd March 2018 (last phase of the Grotto Heart of Lourdes Project). www.projetgrottecoeurdelourdes.com

An alternative to the Baths during their closure: the water gesture

From 30th October 2017 to 23rd March 2018, during the period of closure of the Baths for works, the hospitaliers will welcome and guide you to accomplish the water gesture requested of Bernadette Soubirous by the Virgin Mary. Where?

In front of the new fountains in the Sanctuary (in case of rain, inside the large sacristy of the Grotto). When ? From 13th November 2017 to 23rd March 2018 (from Monday to Saturday): 10.00am-11.00am / 2.30pm- 3.30pm Extended hours on : 1st January 2018, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th February 2018: 9.30am-11.30am / 2.00pm-4.00pm.

Enter a bath filled with water from the spring that flows in the Grotto of the Apparitions and experience something unique.

“Go and drink at the spring and wash yourself there!” these words of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette during one of the Apparitions inspired the creation of the Baths near the Grotto in which the pilgrims are immersed. Whether a believer or not, you are all invited to this very profound experience.

Participating in the Marian procession

Please note the following changes for the last days of the 2017 pilgrimage season: from Thursday 26st October to Sunday 5th November 9.00pm- torchlight Rosary at the Grotto (no procession)

Come and sing the Ave Maria of Lourdes every evening at 9.00pm with believers from all over the world. This is one of the most popular events in Lourdes.

Don’t miss the evening Torchlight Procession. As early as 18th February 1858, the day of the third Apparition, one of the two people accompanying Bernadette had carried a candle. After this, Bernadette herself always came with a candle.

The iconic Lourdes Torchlight Procession, known throughout the world, was introduced in Lourdes in 1863 by Father Marie-Antoine, a Capuchin also known as the ‘Saint of Toulouse’. The Marian Procession is the most popular celebration in Lourdes. Pilgrims come with their banners and sick pilgrims are always anxious to attend when they can.

History of Apparitions in Lourdes

Thursday 11th. February 1858 : the first meeting: Accompanied by her sister and a friend, Bernadette went to Massabielle on the banks of the Gave to collect bones and dead wood. Removing her socks in order to cross the stream, she heard a noise like a gust of wind, she looked up towards the Grotto:

“I SAW A LADY DRESSED IN WHITE, SHE WORE A WHITE DRESS, AN EQUALLY WHITE VEIL, A BLUE BELT AND A YELLOW ROSE ON EACH FOOT.” Bernadette made the Sign of the Cross and said the Rosary with the lady. When the prayer ended the Lady suddenly vanished.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Grotto of Massabielle

Sunday 14th. February: Holy Water: Bernadette felt an inner force drawing her to the Grotto in spite of the fact that she was forbidden to go there by her parents. At her insistence, her mother allowed her; after the first decade of the Rosary, she saw the same lady appearing. She sprinkled holy water at her. The lady smiled and bent her head. When the Rosary ended she disappeared.

Thursday 18 th. February: The lady speaks: For the first time, the Lady spoke. Bernadette held out a pen and paper asking her to write her name. She replied; “It is not necessary” and she added: “I do not promise to make you happy in this world but in the other. Would you be kind enough to come here for a fortnight?”

Friday 19th. February: Short and silent Apparition: Bernadette came to the Grotto with a lighted blessed candle. This is the origin of carrying candles and lighting them in front of the Grotto.

Saturday 20th. February: In silence: The lady taught her a personal prayer. At the end of the vision Bernadette is overcome with a great sadness.

Sunday 21st. February: “Aquéro”: The Lady appeared to Bernadette very early in the morning. About one hundred people were present. Afterwards the Police Commissioner, Jacomet, questioned her. He wanted Bernadette to tell what she saw. Bernadette would only speak of “AQUÉRO” (“that thing” in local dialect)

Tuesday 23rd. February: The secret: Surrounded by 150 persons, Bernadette arrived at the Grotto. The Apparition reveals to her a secret “only for her alone”.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Grotto of Massabielle

Wednesday 24th. February: Penance: The message of the Lady: “Penance! Penance! Penance! Pray to God for sinners. Kiss the ground as an act of penance for sinners!”

Thursday 25th. February: The spring: Three hundred people were present. Bernadette relates; “She told me to go, drink of the spring (….) I only found a little muddy water. At the fourth attempt I was able to drink. She also made me eat the bitter herbs that were found near the spring, and then the vision left and went away.” In front of the crowd that was asking “Do you think that she is mad doing things like that?” she replied; “It is for sinners.”

Saturday 27th. February: Silence: Eight hundred people were present. The Apparition was silent. Bernadette drank the water from the spring and carried out her usual acts of penance.

Sunday 28th. February: Penance: Over one thousand people were present at the ecstasy. Bernadette prayed, kissed the ground and moved on her knees as a sign of penance. She was then taken to the house of Judge Ribes who threatened to put her in prison.

Monday 1st. March: The First Miracle: Over one thousand five hundred people assembled and among them, for the first time, a priest. In the night, Catherine Latapie, a friend from Lourdes, went to the Grotto, she plunged her dislocated arm into the water of the Spring: her arm and her hand regained their movement.

Tuesday 2nd. March: Message to the priests: The crowd becomes larger and larger. The Lady asked her: “Go, tell the priests to come here in procession and to build a chapel here.” Bernadette spoke of this to Fr. Peyramale, the Parish Priest of Lourdes. He wanted to know only one thing: the Lady’s name. He demanded another test; to see the wild rose bush flower at the Grotto in the middle of winter.

Wednesday 3rd. March: A smile: From 7 o’clock in the morning, in the presence of three thousand people, Bernadette arrived at the Grotto, but the vision did not appear! After school, she heard the inner invitation of the Lady. She went to the Grotto and asked her again for her name. The response was a smile. The Parish Priest told her again: “If the Lady really wishes that a chapel be built, then she must tell us her name and make the rose bush bloom at the Grotto.”

Thursday 4th. March: The day all were waiting for: The ever-greater crowd (about eight thousand people) waited for a miracle at the end of the fortnight.
The vision was silent. Fr. Peyramale stuck to his position. For twenty days Bernadette did not go to the Grotto, she no longer felt the irresistible invitation.

Thursday 25th. March: The name they awaited for: The vision finally revealed her name, but the wild rose bush, on which she stood during the Apparitions, did not bloom. Bernadette recounted; “She lifted up her eyes to heaven, joined her hands as though in prayer, that were held out and open towards the ground and said to me:

Que soy era Immaculada Concepciou (I am the Immaculate Conception) .”

The young visionary left and, running all the way, repeated continuously the words that she did not understand. These words troubled the brave Parish Priest. Bernadette was ignorant of the fact that this theological expression was assigned to the Blessed Virgin. Four years earlier, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared this a truth of the Catholic Faith (a dogma)

Wednesday 7th. April: The miracle of the candle: During this Apparition, Bernadette had to keep her candle alight. The flame licked along her hand without burning it. A medical doctor, Dr. Douzous, immediately witnessed this fact.

Thursday 16th. July: The Final Apparition: Bernadette received the mysterious call to the Grotto, but her way was blocked and closed off by a barrier. She thus, arrived across from the Grotto to the other side of the Gave. “I felt that I was in front of the Grotto, at the same distance as before, I saw only the Blessed Virgin, and she was more beautiful than ever

30 years after her death, the cause of the Beatification of Bernadette required that her body be exhumed. When it was exhumed in September 1909, April 1919 and again in April 1925 it was found intact.

Since 3rd August 1925 the body of Bernadette is preserved in a shrine in the chapel of what was known as the Convent of St. Gildard of Nevers. It is now known as “Espace Bernadette Soubirous – Nevers”.

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