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Your Complete Guide to Making a Lourdes Pilgrimage, Where Our Lady Appeared to Saint Bernadette

Have you ever visited the apparition site of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France?

The Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous a total of 18 times between February and July of 1858. The apparitions took place near the grotto of Massabielle. A miraculous spring was uncovered during the ninth apparition.

You can find more information about the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes here.

Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to visit three Marian apparition sites, one of them being Our Lady of Lourdes.

Partaking in a pilgrimage to a Marian apparition site can be a life-changing experience for anyone!

Here is your go-to guide for making a pilgrimage to Lourdes.

Where is Our Lady of Lourdes located?

The shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes is located in southwestern France within the Pyrenees Mountains.

Millions of pilgrims visit each year.

The Shrine’s address is 1 Avenue Mgr. Theas, 65108 Lourdes, France.

When should I make a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Lourdes?

While the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is open year-round, the most popular time to make a pilgrimage is between April and October.

During the peak pilgrimage season, visitors can attend various processions and events.

Where is the closest airport traveling from the United States?

The Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrenees Airport is located just 10 minutes from Lourdes.

You can also fly into the Paris International Airport. Lourdes is located about 500 miles from Paris. There is a train that travels from Paris to Lourdes, which takes about five hours.

Are there accommodations near the Shrine?

Yes! There are hundreds of hotels and inns, many of which are a short walking distance from the Shrine.

What are the places to see in Lourdes?

There are numerous points of interest within the larger Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. Many of these additions were made to accommodate the large number of pilgrims.

The Grotto of Massabielle and the Baths are the most popular destinations, but there are several surrounding churches and basilicas worth visiting.

This includes the famous Massabille Grotto, the Church of Saint Bernadette, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the Basilica of Saint Pius X, and the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Grotto of Massabielle Lourdes / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Here is a summary of each of the must-see locations and information on events that take place during peak pilgrimage season.

The Grotto of Massabielle is where the Virgin Mary first appeared to a young Saint Bernadette in 1858. During your visit, you can collect water from the spring, and at the grotto, the faithful are invited to pray and reflect. There is also a space where you can light a prayer candle.

The Baths at the Sanctuary are a main attraction for pilgrims seeking spiritual or physical healing.

There is an option for visitors to bathe in the Baths at Lourdes. Pilgrims young and old choose to do so in hopes of receiving the graces of the miraculous spring water. Trained assistants escort visitors into a changing room before guiding them to a bath where they are submerged.

Recent data from the Lourdes Bureau Medical states that 70 cases have been officially acknowledged as miraculous, the most recent being in 2018.

According to Catholic News Agency,

“Claims of miracles must go through the study of one of the most strict groups of physicians. In fact, the Lourdes National Medical Committee was established in 1947, made up by university specialists, in order for a more rigorous and independent control to better guarantee the authenticity of the possible miracles.”

More recently, we reported an alleged miraculous healing of a priest with a brain tumor. You can read that story here.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is the oldest one at the Sanctuary and stands above the Lourdes grotto. It is easily recognized by its tall spire and gorgeous glass windows. This is the chapel requested by the Virgin Mary during the 13th apparition.

The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary was built as a pedestal of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. It impresses visitors with exceptional mosaics.

The Basilica of Saint Pius X is located underground within the Boulevard Pere. Here, masses are held regularly. During peak pilgrimage seasons, arriving early is recommended.

The Church of Saint Bernadette is the newest place of worship within the Sanctuary. It stands opposite the Lourdes Grotto. It is said that the church was built on the very spot where Saint Bernadette Soubirous stood when she saw her first apparition.

The Processions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes

According to a tourism site for Our Lady of Lourdes,

“There are two processions a day for visitors of the Sanctuary. The Eucharistic procession and the blessing of the sick are celebrated at 5 p.m. every day from Easter to the end of October. The famous torchlight procession, a highlight to any visitor’s day in Lourdes, takes place at 9 p.m. every night during the same period.”

Do you need a reservation to visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes?

While there are guided tours available and independent pilgrimage sites that orchestrate formal pilgrimages, it is not necessary!

We hope this inspires you to heed the call of the Holy Father to visit Our Lady of Lourdes.

May the Blessed Mother guide you on your journey!

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