Marian apparitions and pilgrimage in Lourdes

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
General view of the holy precinct with the three basilicas

Lourdes is one of the world's most popular pilgrimage sites and is located in southwest France near the Spanish border. The pilgrimage to Lourdes began with a series of 18 apparitions from February 11th to July 16th, 1858.

The apparitions

Massabielle Grotto with the figure of Mary by Joseph-Hugues Fabisch

From February 11, 1858 onwards, the fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous is said to have repeatedly appeared to the Mother of God at the Grotto of Massabielle by the river Gave de Pau . Bernadette was collecting wood when a beautiful lady appeared to the girl in the grotto . The apparition is said to have been dressed in white and girded in blue. At that time, the Massabielle grotto was a place where, among other things, garbage was burned and pigs tended.

During one of these visions , Bernadette exposed a spring in the grotto, the water of which is considered to be medicinal. Every year four to six million visitors make the pilgrimage to Lourdes and thousands take baths in the spring water - in the firm belief in a possible cure. Investigations could not determine any extraordinary mineral composition of the spring water, but it is drinking water quality.

The ecclesiastical and secular superiors viewed these apparitions, which ended on July 16, 1858, at first with suspicion and tried to prevent the crowds. Only after a while did the priests and bishops believe the girl. When the village pastor, Dominique Peyramale, asked Bernadette to ask the apparition for her name, Bernadette's response was “I am the Immaculate Conception ” - a theological term that had only recently been dogmatized by the Pope . Peyramale said that Bernadette, as the uneducated daughter of an impoverished miller, could hardly have known this term. Then he was convinced of the authenticity of the appearance.

Holy District

Holy district in Lourdes with the Rosary Square
Rosary Basilica , in the background the three towers of the Upper Basilica

The “holy district” is the area in Lourdes where the Grotto of Massabielle, various churches and the hospital for sick pilgrims are located. A spring with Lourdes water rises from the grotto, which is said to have miraculous healing. The grotto itself is not decorated, in a niche at the top right stands the famous statue of the Virgin Mary by the sculptor Joseph-Hugues Fabisch from 1864. The French approached his depiction of the lady to the description of St. Bernadette . At that point Bernadette the immaculate received Virgin Mary is said to have also appeared.

After the apparitions of Mary were recognized, an esplanade was built between the grotto and the river to make it easier for pilgrims to access the grotto. Processions through the grotto with its stone altar are possible, but the spring is covered with glass. There are benches in front of the grotto to allow pilgrims to pray. The appearance of the grotto is probably no longer the same as it was at the time of the Marian apparitions of Bernadette.

Crowned Madonna in the holy district
St. Mary's Basilica seen from the grotto
Underground basilica of Pius X.

A sacred area gradually emerged around the grotto with several large churches, chapels and squares to accommodate the growing stream of pilgrims. The oldest structure built to commemorate the apparitions of Mary is the crypt , consecrated in 1866, which Bernadette's father François also helped build. The small church has mighty columns on which the Basilica of the Virgin Mary, completed in 1871 and built in neo-Gothic style, rests. Directly to the east of the sacred building is the rosary basilica with the gilded crown on the dome. From the Rosary Basilica, the large Rosary Square, a processional square with the crowned statue of the Virgin Mary, leads away in the direction of the underground basilica , consecrated in 1958 for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Mary , which holds 25,000 people and is dedicated to Pope Pius X.

In 1988, on the opposite bank of the Gave-de-Pau, the church of St. Bernadette ⊙ was consecrated. This sacred building is no longer part of the original, central pilgrimage area. It was built according to the plans of the architect Jean-Paul Félix and can accommodate around 5,000 visitors. Every autumn the assembly of the French bishops takes place in the Bernadette Church. The church commemorates the spot where Bernadette Soubirous stood when she had the 18th and last apparition of Mary. She was previously prevented by the police from getting to the grotto.

Light procession in Lourdes

The place has since drawn millions of pilgrims , including many sick people who promise help from the miraculous healing water, of the nearly 7,000 cases reported to the medical bureau since its inception, the Roman Catholic Church has 70 so far Healings recognized as miracles. There are replicas of the grotto, so-called Lourdes grottoes, in numerous places around the world .

Remembrance day

The Remembrance Day of Our Lady in Lourdes ( Beatae Mariae Virginis de Lapurdo ), which the Catholic Church celebrates on February 11 ( non-commemorative day in the general Roman calendar ), commemorates the apparitions .

Miraculous healings

The first healing considered miraculous by the Roman Catholic Church occurred when Catherine Latapie went to the spring at night and dipped her partially paralyzed arm into the spring. On January 18, 1862, four years after the events, Bishop Laurence of Tarbes recognized the apparitions in the name of the Church as genuine, as evidenced by a marble tablet in the grotto. The reasons for this were the credible appearance of Bernadette Soubirous, the healing of several sick people after drinking the water and repeated reports of the appearance of the apparition. Of the nearly 7,000 healings reported to the medical bureau since its inception, the Roman Catholic Church has recognized 70 as miracles to date.

According to the official website, people from all walks of life and all ages were healed. The cured diseases include a. Multiple sclerosis , tuberculosis , infectious diseases , bone cancer . Delizia Cirolli was cured of bone cancer, her cure is considered the 65th of the healings recognized as miracles by the Church . Hereditary diseases were not cured .

The 1984 report Lourdes cures and their medical assessment dealt critically, among other things, with the topic of miraculous healings in Lourdes. For example, the author St. John Downling examined the case of a 26-year-old patient who in 1954 in Lourdes experienced a miraculous cure for Budd-Chiari syndrome (a liver disease), which was recognized by a church medical commission in 1963. The patient died in 1970 as a result of her newly erupted disease.


  • Alexis Carrel : The Miracle of Lourdes [description of a spontaneous healing that the later Nobel Prize winner for medicine, Dr. Alexis Carrel (1873-1944), as a doctor in Lourdes at the beginning of the 20th century, observed a patient]. Stuttgart 1951.
  • Johannes Chrząszcz : Maria von Lourdes [History of the Place of Grace Lourdes]. Wilpert, Groß-Strehlitz, 1890
  • Paulo Coelho : I sat on the banks of the Rio Piedra and cried. Novel. Diogenes, Zurich 1997, ISBN 3-257-06148-X , pp. 83-88.
  • Jean B. Estrade: Bernadette, the gifted of Lourdes . Johannes-Verlag, Leutesdorf am Rhein [1980], ISBN 3-7794-0571-7 (description of the apparitions of Lourdes by an eyewitness).
  • Irmengard Jehle: Man on the way to God. The pilgrimage as a religious need of man - shown at the Marienwallfart to Lourdes. Würzburg 2002, ISBN 3-429-02475-7 .
  • Irmengard Jehle: Bernadette and the miracle of Lourdes. Herder, Freiburg 2008, ISBN 3-451-29820-1 .
  • Franz Werfel : The song of Bernadette . [Novel]. In: Collected works in individual volumes , Fischer- Taschenbuch 9462, Frankfurt am Main 1991 ff (first edition in: Bermann Fischer Verlag, Stockholm 1941), ISBN 3-596-29462-2 .

Web links

Commons : Apparitions of the Virgin Mary and Pilgrimage in Lourdes  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Heinz-Joachim Fischer: Benedict XVI. in Lourdes: Pope calls Catholics to mission . In: FAZ.NET , September 14, 2008 . Retrieved November 16, 2009. 
  2. Church of Saint Bernadette on
  3. ^ Stefan von Kempis: France: New Lourdes miracle recognized - Vatican News . In: Vatican News . February 11, 2018 ( [accessed September 9, 2018]).
  4. Stefan von Kempis, Olivier Bonnell: Miracles of Lourdes , Vatican News of February 14, 2018. See also the list of the pilgrimage site The Healed of Lourdes ( Memento of the original from June 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet tested. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /