Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matt 11:28-30)

Statue of Our Lady at the Grotto at Lourdes

Lourdes is a town in southwestern France, in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains. Every year, millions visit the Grotto of Massabielle where, in 1858, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a Bernadette Soubirous. Bernadette reported witnessing a series of apparitions of a girl dressed in white and with a blue belt around her waist and a yellow rose on each foot, who eventually introduced herself as the “Immaculate Conception”. This was a reference to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which had been defined only four years earlier in 1854 by Pope Pius IX, stating that the Virgin Mary herself had been conceived without sin. During the Apparitions, Bernadette Soubirous prayed the Rosary. Pope John Paul II wrote: “The Rosary of the Virgin Mary is a prayer with great significance, designated to bring fruits of holiness”. Pilgrims can drink or bathe in water flowing from a spring in the grotto. Many physical and spiritual healing are associated with the waters. The six official languages of the Sanctuary are French, English, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and German


Let us run to Mary, and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence.” St Francis de Sales

Grotto of Massabielle – Apparitions at Lourdes
Our Lady appeared here to St. Bernadette. At the time of the apparitions, the grotto lay well outside town, on common ground which was used by the villagers variously for pasturing animals, collecting firewood, and as a garbage dump, and it had a reputation for being an unpleasant place. Among the instructions from ‘the Beautiful Lady’ were “Go and drink from the spring”, “Go and tell the priests to build a chapel here”, and “Have the people come here in procession”. These three instructions in particular were to prove pivotal in the development of the Lourdes.


What grace do I want to ask of the Lord for particularly on this trip?”

Basilica of the Immaculate Conception 

There are three churches at the Sanctuary, the Crypt, the Upper Basilica and the Rosary Basilica. The Crypt is the smallest and the first to be constructed. The Upper Basilica is a gothic style building consecrated in 1876. one side seems to emerge directly from the rock of Massabielle. It has a series of stained-glass windows depicting various events in the story of Lourdes; the clerestory windows depict Mary as the Second Eve. Above the entrance is a mosaic depicting Pope Pius IX, who defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854.

The Rosary Basilica is the third of the churches here and was consecrated in 1901. It has a capacity of 1,500 worshippers. Its style is influenced by Byzantine architecture. The exterior of the dome is surmounted by a dramatic gilded crown and cross, which were a gift from the people of Ireland in 1924. The nave is surrounded by fifteen smaller side chapels, one for each of the traditional Mysteries of the Rosary. On the left of the nave are found the Joyful Mysteries; in the centre behind the sanctuary are the Sorrowful Mysteries, and to the right are the Glorious Mysteries. The exterior facade of the basilica was modified in 2007 to include a depiction of the Luminous Mysteries, which were added to the traditional fifteen by Pope John Paul II in 2002.


Most people have no idea what God would make of them if they would only place themselves at his disposal.” St Ignatius Loyola

Inside and around the Upper and Rosary Basilica

International Mass at the Basilica of Saint Pius X
Designed in the form of an upturned ship, the underground Basilica hosts an international Mass in multiple languages with seats for 25000 people. IMG_3838.jpg

“The person who abandons himself totally in God’s hands does not become God’s puppet, a boring “yes man”; he does not lose his freedom. Only the person who entrusts himself totally to God finds true freedom, the great, creative immensity of the freedom of good. The person who turns to God does not become smaller but greater, for through God and with God he becomes great, he becomes divine, he becomes truly himself.”  Pope Benedict XVI

Candlelight Procession at the Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes.

The Candlelight Marian Procession takes place daily at 9.00pm. It begins near the Grotto and continues around the esplanade ending in the Rosary square. In extreme weather it may be held in the Underground Basilica instead. The procession is led by sick pilgrims followed by volunteers carrying a replica of the Cabuchet Statue of the Virgin Mary. Most participants carry a candle. The focus of this procession is the rosary All five decades are recited in a variety of languages. The Lourdes Hymn is also sung, with verses in different languages. Intercessions may be invoked followed by the Laudate Mariam. There is a final blessing in Latin, and then an invitation to exchange the Sign of Peace with fellow pilgrims


Immaculate Mary ( The Lourdes Hymn)

1. Immaculate Mary, thy praises we sing;
Who reignest in splendor with Jesus our King.
Ave, ave, ave, Maria! Ave, ave, Maria!

2. In heaven, the blessed thy glory proclaim;
On earth we, thy children, invoke thy fair name.
Ave, ave, ave, Maria! Ave, ave, Maria!

3. We pray for God’s glory; may His kingdom come;
We pray for His vicar, our father, and Rome.

Ave, ave, ave, Maria! Ave, ave, Maria!

4. We pray for our Mother, the Church upon earth,
And bless, dearest Lady, the land of our birth.

Ave, ave, ave, Maria! Ave, ave, Maria!

Via Cruces – The Way of the Cross.
Life sized cast iron representations of 15 Passion scenes up Espelugues HillIMG_3914.jpg



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