It was in the French town on February 11, 1858, that 14-year-old
Bernadette Soubirous saw the first of 18 apparitions of the
Since then there have been 67 recognised miracles attributed
to the site in the foothills of the Pyrénées.
An average of 5 million visitors a year, many of them coming
in the hopes of being cured of a variety of ailments.
A year of celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions
of Our Lady to St Bernadette at Lourdes in 1858 began with the
Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2007. On the eve of the Feast,
7 December 2007, there was a procession from the site of the
Baptism of St Bernadette in the Parish Church of the town (the
original Parish Church was burnt down but the font remains in
the new church) to the Cachot then to the Basilica of St Pius
X. Next day, on 8 December 2007, Mass of the Immaculate Conception
was celebrated in the Basilica of St Pius X by the Indian Cardinal
Ivan Dias - estimates of those present varied between 33,000
and 20,000 faithful. The silence and reverence of this occasion
was noticed by all present.
The 150th anniversary of the first
apparition was on
Monday 11th February 2008 (Thursday 11 February 1858)
The 18th and final apparition will be commerorated on
Wednesday 16th July 2008 (Thursday 16 July 1858).
Pope Benedict XVI has authorised special indulgences to mark the
150th anniversary of the Virgin Mary's appearance at Lourdes.
The faithful visiting the site within a year of 8 December will
be able to receive an indulgence.
The Pope also said believers who prayed at places of worship dedicated
to Our Lady of
Some 8 million visitors are expected to stream into Lourdes
this year to take part in the celebrations commemorating the
anniversary of Saint Bernadette's visions.
Pope Benedict XVI is expected to travel to Lourdes later in
the year, probably in September.