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Sanctuary in Lourdes
Lourdes is a place known all around the world, despite the fact is just a small city, located in Pyrenees, inhabited by just 17 thousand residents. Every year, around 5 million people from 150 countries of the world come to Lourdes. The city life is focused around two streets, heading towards the most important part of the city - the Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary.
In 1858, Bernadette Soubirous, a poor daughter of a miller, has seen the Virgin Mary 18 times in 6 months. First revelation occurred on 11th of February and the last one on 16th of July 1858. All of them happened in the area around a cave named Massiabelle, standing next to the river Gave, on a small field.
The people who gathered in the cave saw Bernadette kneeling and kissing the ground. The girl went to the river, still on her knees, and then turned back to the cave again. She dug a small hole in the dry ground. A moment later, she took some water and put it in her mouth. "Go to the spring, drink and wash yourself" - these words were spoken to Bernadette by the Virgin Mary. Each year thousand of visitors fulfil the same duty.
"Let them build a chapel..", this was Virgin Mary's wish during the revelation and her will was fulfilled. In the place where she had been talking to Bernadette, a chapel and a huge basilica was erected. A huge tower, made of white marble, overlooks the rock where the revelations took place. The basilica itself actually consists of three churches, two above the ground and one under the ground level, devoted to the pope Pius X, a propagator of the cult of the Virgin Mary. The church stands on a rock which makes it visually higher than it really is.
The revelations at Lourdes were officially recognized after five years from the date of their happening. However, the interest in the place was already developing in 1858.
Today, the water from the holy spring is the most important part of any pilgrimage to Lourdes. Everyone can take as much water as desired absolutely free of charge.
The season for pilgrimages lasts from the Easter to the 1st of November. Huge crowds of tourists gather in Lourdes especially in the summer.
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