Thousands begin religious pilgrimage to Lourdes
The annual religious pilgrimage in Lourdes, France began on Saturday, with organisers expecting 10,000 people between now and 16 August. Under this year’s theme of the rosary, Catholic believers will come to the famous religious city with hopes of being healed.
For this 139th national pilgrimage, Lourdes will welcome 250 families, including nearly 800 children, more than one thousand sick and handicapped, and another thousand in difficulty, according to Bishop Bernard Housset of La Rochelle-Saintes.
Believers will await notably the 15th of August and the Assumption – the day when the Virgin Mary was taken up to heaven.
A prayer for France will be given on the day, with special reference to those suffering from the economic crisis, and a push for a strengthening of families.
The prayer comes in a national context of a government who has announced its support of a possible law allowing homosexual marriage.
The message will be read in front of the Massabielle cave, where the Virgin Mary appeared in 1858 to 14 year-old Bernadette Soubirous.
Apart from national prayer, many attendees may hope to be healed, as is the legend of Lourdes.
More than 7,000 healings have been registered in Lourdes since 1884, with 67 of those being classified as miracles by the Catholic church.
In order for a healing to be classified as such, it must go through an exhaustive religious and scientific investigation to prove that it is medically unexplainable.
Of the 67 cases deemed “miracles” – the ultimate attainment – 80 percent were women, 55 were French, six were Italian and three were Belgian.