Lourdes is nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains in Southwest France. Lourdes is incredibly spiritual, peaceful and tranquil.
Lourdes is known for the Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes, or the Domain, where pilgrims gather from all over the world. Sites within the Domain include the Basilica of Saint Pius X, the Grotto of Apparitions or the Grotto of Massabielle known for its healing water, and the Rosary Basilica.
In 1858, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared multiple times to a local woman and revealed her identity with the words ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’. Mary told her to dig a hole to find a spring and build a chapel on top of the spring. Today, there are 70 confirmed miracles of healing after people bathed in the holy water from the spring. Each year, millions visit the Grotto of Massabielle (Grotto of the Apparitions) where pilgrims attend mass and drink or bathe in the spring water. The spring water from the grotto is believed by some Catholics to possess healing properties.
We drove to Lourdes from Girona Spain, on our way to San Sebastian. After settling into our hotel, we walked into the center of Lourdes and immediately noticed the town felt peaceful and incredibly spiritual. Seeing the assistance given to the sick and handicapped people who had made the pilgrimage to Lourdes to be healed was incredibly moving.
You cannot miss Our Lady Of Lourdes Basilica; it stands majestically in the center of town and the area of the Grotto from the Rosary Esplanade to the bridge beyond the baths, is the heart of the Sanctuary.
After exploring the upper Basilica, we heard singing and headed to the Grotto of Massabielle. We couldn’t believe our luck – outdoor Mass was just starting. Mass is celebrated daily in multiple languages.
We enjoyed a beautiful Mass which ended with us proceeding past the miraculous spring underneath the grotto. Droplets flowed from the walls allowing us to touch with our hands and wipe the holy water on our body. Walking in the grotto and moving with pilgrims from one end to the other, and touching the smooth cold rocks, brought me to tears. It gave us time to acknowledge our gratitude and seek blessings. We felt at peace and blessed to be there.
We shared an unforgettable experience in this place of prayer, healing and contemplation. To be in this holy place and actually see and touch the spring and statue of the Virgin Mary, felt overwhelming. After we left the grotto we were able to drink and collect holy water a short distance away.
The Basilica itself is worth several daily visits. A highlight of the activities was the evening procession with candles and torches lighting the sky as the sun sets behind the Basilica.
A total of 70 miraculous healings have been acknowledged by the Catholic church at Lourdes since 1858, when a 14-year-old peasant girl claimed that she had seen the Virgin Mary in a cave. There have been four miracles since 1978, with the most recent in 2018 when an Italian woman was said to have been healed of acute rheumatism. Over 7,000 cases of unexplained cures from severe medical conditions have been also recorded.
Lourdes gave us an ordinary sense of peace, joy and healing. If you need to reset, heal your soul, and relax, this is the place to gather yourself in quiet contemplation.
I’m a travel and health writer, digital and brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two active boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising teenage boys, family life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.