May 13, 2022: Lourdes. In 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared a young peasant girl at Lourdes. Each year, 5 million pilgrims seek healing from the waters of the grotto.
“If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces… never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again. That’s the beauty of being alive… We can always start all over again. Enjoy God’s amazing opportunities bestowed on us.”
― Saint Bernadette of Lourdes
While gathering firewood, fourteen-year-old Marie Bernarde Soubirous saw a dazzling light and a young woman in white. The vision appeared 18 times and charged Bernadette to tell the people to build a chapel and to pray. She also instructed her to drink the water of the grotto for healing. Many thought Bernadette mentally ill, but she was eventually validated and canonized as St. Bernadette.
Today, Lourdes is one of the world’s most visited Roman Catholic shrines, second only to St. Peters in Rome. Over 200 million have visited since the apparitions. The skies were swirled and mystical on the day of our visit. The grotto and grounds were serene.
No humble chapel, the basilica stuns with its dazzling mosaics. Three sets of five mosaics represent the mysteries of the rosary (sorrowful, joyful, and glorious). Unusual for France, these were done in a Byzantine style, more closely associated with Orthodox churches.
On the grounds, we found small huts filled with large and small devotional candles, sheltering the flames from the wind. Nearby, you can fill your water bottle from the grotto spring. Whether or not you are religious, Lourdes is a beautiful and spiritual place worthy of pilgrimage.