While an admirable work of art created by the lapping waters of the once turquoise Gave de Pau, the unassuming riverside grotto tucked away on the northern neck of the Massabielle (“Old Mass”) in the quaint town of Lourdes is hardly the most majestic in Mother Nature's collection. In fact, the cramped cave was so unexceptional that, for the most part, it remained untouched until the mid-19th century, save for a few stranded fishermen or herdsmen who took refuge there from unanticipated tempests and thunderstorms. Surrounded by hearty shrubs and swathed in winding vines of ivy, the shallow grotto, as damp as it is dim, is not even large enough to accommodate a coven of witches.
Despite its quotidian exterior and underwhelming dimensions, the grotto draws in millions upon millions of visitors year after year without fail today. Zigzagging queues of locals, out-of-towners, and Christian pilgrims alike wait patiently for their chance to not only appreciate but pay their respects to the mystifyingly magnetic grotto. Many of the starstruck believers raise their hands, their eyes welling with genuine tears, towards a statue of whom the locals hail "Our Lady of Lourdes", which is housed in a niche illuminated by a Christmas-tree-shaped candelabra holding stacks of white taper candles.
They say that judgment does not exist in Lourdes. Once one sets foot on this hallowed soil, all barriers of race, social status, background, and religious differences cease to exist. One is no more than a humble soul in search of a renewal of one's connection to God.
Given the promises of inner peace and spiritual awakenings, not to mention the countless cases - both claimed and "verified" - of miraculous healing this supernatural town is teeming with, it comes as no surprise that this once unassuming town has now become the second most popular tourist destination in France, following Paris. Over the years, this formerly quaint but rinky-dink, gray-roofed cottage town has more than succeeded in putting itself on the map through its mystical sanctuaries built on miracles, but how exactly did they achieve such a designation? And how much truth, if any at all, is there in these so-called miracles?
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes: The History and Legacy of the Catholic Church’s Haven of Miracles chronicles the remarkable history of the site and how it became one of the religion’s most influential spots. You will learn about the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes like never before.