Lourdes is a small suburb located in the south-western France. The modest place has been a major pilgrimage place for Roman Catholic. The Blessed Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared there to a poor shepherd girl, Bernadette Soubirous. Ever since, people from all over the world, Catholic or those who believe, has been visiting not only for praying but for miraculous healing.
The population of Lourdes is around 15,000, but the crowds are mostly tourists and pilgrims. Almost in every corner, souvenir shops can be spotted. Most of them selling prayer items such as rosaries.
Basilica of the Rosary (Basilique Notre-Dame du Rosaire) is one of the major places of worship. Just behind the Basilica, there is the Grotto of Massabielle, where The Virgin Mary is said to have appeared 18 times to Bernadette. At the back of the Grotto, a spring was spouted when Bernadette scraped the earth as instructed by The Virgin. The water from this spring is believed to have a healing properties. Not only those who are sick, but also those who hope to be cleanse spiritually go for the bath in which the spring water flows to.
Pilgrims can write their petitions and leave in a box at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. I helped a few of my friends to write their petitions and left mine too. They are collected daily and burnt. As long as we are sincere, our prayers will be answered. There are benches to allow visitors to sit and pray. Pilgrims are asked to remain silent to create an atmosphere of devotion. And just next to the Grotto, pilgrims can light the candles or pray.
During the Candlelight Procession or also called Marion Procession or Rosary Procession, thousands of people will carry candles while praying. This heavenly procession starts every 9PM, starts from the Grotto around the Sanctuaries and back to the Basilica of Rosary. Many of them are sick and wheelchairs. The Rosary is prayed in many different languages not only English or French.
Although Lourdes is a modest suburban, this place is very peaceful. There are still restaurant or pubs which open until late, but most shops close early.
I felt so serene and peaceful during and after my visit to Lourdes. As a Catholic myself, I am very grateful to be able to visit this major pilgrimage place. I wish that it’s not going to be my last time to be able to say my prayer personally to Mother Mary in this holy place. I sincerely hope and pray that I could have my second, third, and more chances to come here with my loved ones.