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Lourdes sanctuary still coping with damage from last summer's floods

Catholic World News - February 13, 2014

The sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes was ready to receive pilgrims on the February 11 feast day, but “a lot still remains to be done” to repair damage from last year’s devastating floods, the local bishop reports.

Bishop Nicolas Brouwet of Tarbes and Lourdes told the ANSA news agency that flood damage was extensive, and the entire underground basilica was submerged. “We have been working non-stop of eight months” on repairs, he said. The Lourdes sanctuary had estimated the costs of repairs at €7.3 million; with the help of an “unprecedented” spate of donations, more than half of that sum was raised within weeks after the floods closed the renowned French shrine.

However, the Lourdes sanctuary still faces financial concerns because of a decline in the number of pilgrims visiting the shrine each year, Bishop Brouwet reported. “We’re feeling the pinch from the crisis of faith as well as the economic crisis,” he said.

Bishop Brouwet said that the custodians of the Lourdes grotto, in addition to repairing flood damage, are consulting with experts on how the sanctuary could be protected from future floods.

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