2008-02-11 FRANCE

One of the most visited shrines in the world

Every year six million people visit Lourdes. It all started back in 1858, when the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernardette Soubirous. Since then, the flow of pilgrims and visitors has never stopped growing.
For the 150th anniversary of the apparitions, the directors of the shrine have estimated that they will need to organise a jubilee lasting the whole year, to thank for the many graces received, to be better aware of the shrine?s mission at the beginning of the 3rd millennium, and open its doors even wider. The jubilee will begin on the day of the festivity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, on 8th December 2007, and it will last until 8th December 2008.

Facing the immense number of people who come to Lourdes, the Bishop of Tarbes, Mgr Jaques Perrier asks himself ?What do they come to see? A touristic location? There are better ones in France. They come because Lourdes is a different place, a place where Christians are free to show their faith, where the little ones have the right to citizenship, a place where the sick and the disabled are privileged, a place of prayer, of service and brotherhood among peoples, which children and young people find ?wonderful?, a place open to everyone, regardless of their ideas. Even a few hours in Lourdes are never forgotten. That is why many people come back, often many times during their life?.

In a world of calculations, glitter and violence, high spiritual places are all the more necessary. Lourdes gives people back the energy to face life.

The calendar of the celebrations for the jubilee year is available at:
www.lourdes2008.com – PDF


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