The town of Lourdes in France is known the world over as a pilgrimage destination, today we introduce you to 11 interesting facts about Lourdes you might not know about this fascinating little town at the foot of the Pyrenees:
1- Lourdes has a population of just 15,000 people.
2- Located at the foot of the Pyrenees mountain range, Lourdes is surrounded by magnificent natural beauty and nestled among three important summits: Aneto, Montaigu and Vignemale. A short 15-minute cable car ride up the mountain, taking the Pic du Jer, opens up the most breathtaking panoramic views of Lourdes valley and the mountains.
3- Lourdes has been an important Marian shrine and pilgrimage destination since 1858, when the Virgin Mary appeared to 14-year old peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous.
4- The town receives an impressive 5 million pilgrims and visitors each year, making Lourdes the most visited Christian shrine in the world. It is estimated that more than 200 million pilgrims have visited Lourdes since 1860.
5- Healing powers: The site was originally a regional pilgrimage destination but since 1873, when healings at the spring began to take place Lourdes became a national and international pilgrimage destination. It is one of the best known facts about Lourdes and its sanctuary.
6- Bernadette’s Grotto of Apparitions or Grotto des Apparitions is one of the main sites for devotees from over the world, who travel to Lourdes to drink or bathe in the water from the miraculous spring, believed to have curative powers.
7- There are three basilicas in Lourdes: Basilica of Immaculate Conception, Basilique de l’Immaculée Conception, also known as Upper Basilica dating back to 1871; the Underground Basilica of Pius X, built in 1958 to celebrate the first centenary of the apparitions; and the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary.
In addition, pilgrims can also visit the Crypt and Saint Bernadette’s Church.
8- Pilgrims generally travel to Lourdes from April to October but 15th August, Assumption of Mary, is the main feast day in Lourdes and a very special day at the shrine.
9- A candle lit procession takes place every night at 9pm since 1872. This beautiful procession lasts for approximately one hour and half; and pilgrims finish at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary.
10- Bernadette de Soubirous became Saint Bernadette in December 1933.
11- In addition to its world-famous sacred sites and sanctuary, Lourdes is also a great destination for active visitors who come to enjoy the magnificent nature trails and spectacular scenery in the area. There is even a Camino de Santiago route that takes pilgrims all the way from Lourdes to Santiago de Compostela.
Do you know any interesting facts about Lourdes you’d like to share with us? Get in contact to let us know.
To learn more about our upcoming pilgrimages to Lourdes or if you would like to organise a group tour to Lourdes contact the JWT Pilgrimage travel experts and we will be happy to help.Contact Us