Lourdes, located in southwestern France, is the most visited pilgrimage site in the Christian world. It welcomes over 6 million pilgrims each year to venerate the site of the Marian apparitions to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. Most of these visits take place between April and October.
On the 11th of February 1858, Bernadette Soubirous witnessed a beautiful apparition in this small village in France. While gathering wood by the Grotto, Bernadette first saw a vision of Our Lady surrounded by brilliant light. Too frightened to approach Her, Bernadette prayed the Rosary while Our Lady looked on in quiet approval. Our Lady then disappeared. It was not until Her third visit to the Grotto that She spoke.
She asked Bernadette to come to the Grotto for fifteen days. Bernadette did as requested and listened to the messages Our Lady delivered from God. In these messages He asks His children to pray for sinners and repent. During the apparitions Our Lady gave Bernadette a mission; She requested that Bernadette tell the priests to build a chapel and come in procession to Lourdes.
During the 9th apparition, the discovery of the miraculous spring in the Grotto was made by Bernadette. Its waters are said to have healing powers and many miraculous healings to this day are attributed to it. Bernadette was scrutinised and questioned by hundreds of people on a daily basis. Cure Peyramale, the local pastor, accused Bernadette of lying about the apparitions and demanded that she ask Our Lady to identify Herself. On the feast of the Annunciation, Our Lady declared to Bernadette "I am the Immaculate Conception." It was then that people ceased accusing Bernadette of lies. The apparitions lasted until July 1858. There were 18 apparitions in total and 2008 marked the anniversary of the 150th year of Lourdes.
- This programme is subject to change depending on the availability of the visionaries and the priests of the Parish.
With 6 million pilgrims visiting Lourdes each year, there is no doubt that it is a place of enormous attraction for those seeking enlightenment through the footsteps of St. Bernadette. The itinerary can be either 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 nights.Below see a detailed description of our Lourdes pilgrimage. The programme below is only a sample programme. For specific dates, prices and itineraries please see our price list.
- During our stay, there is a multitude to see and experience. Our pilgrimage and tour of Lourdes includes visits to the Basilica of the Rosary and the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
- We take part in the Masses, the Stations of the Cross and the blessing of the sick, visit the Grotto of Massabeille where the apparitions of Our Lady took place. We participate in the evening torchlight processions which are extremely impressive. Our Lady requested that these processions take place when She appeared to Bernadette.
- We participate in the walking tour to the Boly Mill, where Bernadette was born, and to the Cachot, an abandoned prison where Bernadette's family lived. Drink from the spring at the base of the Grotto. The original spring that Bernadette located is still visible, protected by a glass cover and illuminated by a light.
- Immerse yourself in the baths where hundreds of miraculous healings have taken place. Visit the parish church and see Bernadettes original Baptismal font and the cemetery where her parents and relatives are buried.
- We will see the hospice where Bernadette attended school and made her First Holy Communion. After the apparitions she also lived here until the age of twenty two, when she went to Nevers to join the Sisters of Charity of Nevers.
- On one of the free days there are optional tours available. On our optional trip to Bartres we will see where Bernadette lived for a period of her life. See also the grave of her foster mother, Maria Lagues. There is also an optional trip to Betharram, a pilgrimage site that Bernadette travelled to as a pilgrim. It was here that she bought her Rosary beads, the same beads that she used to pray with, during the apparitions of Our Lady.
- There is also an option of taking a tour to Gavarnie, an afternoon trip to the beautiful scenic location of the Pyrenees.
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