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Catholic Dictionary




World famous shrine of the Immaculate conception, in the department of Hautes-Pyrénées in France. In 1858, the Blessed Virgin appeared eighteen times at Massabielle, at a grotto near Lourdes, to Bernadette Soubirous, a fourteen-year-old peasant girl. At the same time a spring appeared, miraculous healings were reported, and pilgrims began to come to the spot. In 1862 the apparitions received ecclesiastical approbation and a church was built above the grotto. Then beside it, from 1883 to 1901, was built the magnificent Church of the Rosary. Since then millions of people have visited the shrine, and a medical bureau has been established to investigate the character of the cures, of which hundreds have been fully authenticated by medical specialists.

The healings generally take place after the people have bathed in the waters of the spring, or during the blessing with the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament carried in procession. Not all cures are physical, many report marvelous conversion and graces in the spiritual life. In 1891 a local feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11) was established and in 1907 extended to the universal Church by Pope St. Pius X.