Rosary Basilica at night, during the Torchlight Procession
canton=Chief town of 2 cantons .l
Communauté de communes du Pays de Lourdes
alt mini=343 m
alt maxi=960 m
Lourdes was originally a small
market townlying in the foothills of the Pyrenees. At that time, the most prominent feature was the fortified castle that rises up from the center of the town on a rocky escarpment. Following the claims that there were apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdesto Bernadette Soubirousin 1858, Lourdes has developed into a major place of Christian pilgrimage. The 150th Jubilee of the apparitions is in 2008, and larger crowds than usual are expected to visit.
Today Lourdes has a population of around 15,001 inhabitants but is able to take in some 5,000,000 pilgrims and
touristsevery season. With about 270 hotels, Lourdes has the second greatest number of hotels in France after Paris.
It is the joint seat of the
diocese of Tarbes-et-Lourdes.
Lourdes is located in the area of the
prime meridianin France. It is overlooked from the south by the Pyrenean peaks of Aneto, Montaigu, and Vignemale(3,298 m), while around the town there are three summits reaching up to 1,001 m which are known as the "Béout", the "Petit Jer" (with its three crosses) and the "Grand Jer" (with its single cross) which overlook the town. The Grand Jer is accessible via the funicular railway of the Pic du Jer. The Béout was once accessible by cable car, although this has fallen into disrepair. A pavilion is still visible on the summit.
Lourdes lies at an altitude of 420 m (1,375 ft) and in a central position through which runs the fast-flowing river the
Gave de Paufrom the south coming from its source at Gavarnie, into which flow several smaller rivers from Barègesand Cauterets. The Gave then branches off to the west towards the Béarn, running past the banks of the Grotto and on downstream to Pau and then Biarritz.
On land bordered by a loop of the Gave de Pau is an outcrop of rock called "Massabielle", (from "masse vieille": "old mass"). On the northern aspect of this rock, near the riverbank, is a naturally occurring, irregularly shaped shallow cave or grotto, in which the apparitions of 1858 took place. [Ruth Harris, "Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age", Penguin Books, 1999, p. 52.]
During the 8th century, Lourdes and its fortress became the focus of skirmishes between Mirat, the local leader, and
Charlemagne, King of the Franks. Charlemagne had been laying siege to Miratin the fortress for some time, but the Moor had so far refused to surrender. According to legend, an eagle unexpectedly appeared and dropped an enormous trout at the feet of Mirat. It was seen as such a bad omen that Mirat was persuaded to surrender to the Queen of the sky by the local bishop. He visited the Black Virgin of Puy to offer gifts, so he could make sure this was the best course of action and, astounded by its exceptional beauty, he decided to surrender the fort and convert to Christianity. On the day of his baptism, Mirat took on the name of Lorus, which was given to the town, now known as Lourdes.
After being the residency of the
Bigorrecounts, Lourdes was given to Englandby the Brétigny Treatywhich bought a temporary peace to France during the course of the Hundred Years Warwith the result that the French lost the town to the English, from 1360. In 1405, Charles VI laid siege to the castle during the course of the Hundred Years Warand eventually captured the town from the English following the 18-month siege. Later, during the late 16th century, France was ravaged with the Wars of Religionbetween the Roman Catholics and the Huguenots. In 1569, Count Gabriel de Montgomeryattacked the nearby town of Tarbeswhen Queen Jeanne d’Albret of Navarreestablished Protestantism there. The town was overrun, in 1592, by forces of the Catholic League and the Catholic faith was re-established in the area. In 1607, Lourdes finally became part of the Kingdom of France.
The castle became a jail under
Louis XVbut, in 1789, the General Estates Assembly ordered the liberation of prisoners. Following the rise of Napoleonin 1803, he again made the Castle an Estate jail. Towards the end of the Peninsular Warbetween France, Spain, Portugal, and Britain in 1814, British and Allied forces, under the Duke of Wellington, entered France and took control of the region and followed Marshall Soult’s army, defeating the French near the adjoining town of Tarbes before the final battle took place outside Toulouseon 10 April 1814which brought the war to an end.
Up until 1858, Lourdes was a quiet, modest, county-town with a population of only some 4,000 inhabitants. The castle was occupied by an infantry garrison. The town was a place people passed through on their way to the waters at
Barèges, Cauterets, Luz-Saint-Sauveurand Bagnères-de-Bigorre, and for the first mountaineers on their way to Gavarnie, when the events which were to change its history took place. On 11 February 1858, a 14-year-old local girl, Bernadette Soubirous, claimed a beautiful lady appeared to her in the remote Grotto of Massabielle. The lady later identified herself as "the Immaculate Conception" and the faithful believe her to be the Blessed Virgin Mary. The lady appeared 18 times, and by 1859 thousands of pilgrims were visiting Lourdes. A statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was erected at the site in 1864. See Our Lady of Lourdesfor more details on the apparitions.
Since the apparitions, Lourdes has become one of the world's leading Catholic
Marian shrines and the number of visitors grows each year. It has such an important place within the Roman Catholicchurch, that Pope John Paul IIvisited the shrine twice on 15 August 1983 and 14-15 August 2004. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVIauthorized special indulgencesto mark the 150th anniversary of Our Lady of Lourdes. [cite news
title =Pope approves Lourdes indulgences
publisher =BBC News
accessdate = 2007-12-06 ]
Sanctuary of Lourdes
Yearly from March to October the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is a place of mass pilgrimage from Europe and other parts of the world. The spring water from the grotto is believed by some to possess healing properties, however there have been from the beginning sceptics of the miracles reported to have taken place in Lourdes. A common misconception is that miracles are the core of the Sanctuary of Lourdes, and the reasons for visits. Although this is probably the case for some visitors, the majority of pilgrims come as part of their Christian faith, and to help those in need.
An estimated 200 million people have visited the shrine since 1860 [http://www.sacredsites.com/europe/france/lourdes.html] , and the
Roman Catholic Churchhas officially recognized 67 miracle healings [ [http://www.lourdes-france.org/index.php?goto_centre=ru&contexte=en&id=687# Lourdes france, le site officiel des Sanctuaires vous accueille ] ] . Especially impressive are candlelight and sacrament processions. Tours from all over the world are organized to visit the Sanctuary. Connected with this pilgrimage is often the consumption of or bathing in the Lourdes waterwhich wells out of the Grotto.
At the time of the apparitions the grotto was on common land which was used by the villagers variously for pasturing animals, collecting firewood and as a garbage dump, and it possessed a reputation for being an unpleasant place. [Ruth Harris, "Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age", Penguin Books, 1999, p. 53.]
Hospitalité Notre-Dame de Lourdes
During one of the Virgin Mary’s apparitions to
St Bernadettein 1858, she asked that people come in procession to the Grotto. In the early days care for sick pilgrims was provided by local nuns and charitable workers. As numbers of visitors grew, especially those from the rest of France, local facilities rapidly became swamped, and large groups such as the "Hospitalité de Notre-Dame de Salut" were set up, consisting of lay men and women whose objective was charitable aid to the sick pilgrims of Lourdes. The "Hospitalité Notre-Dame de Lourdes" splintered from the former group in 1885. [Ruth Harris, "Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age", Penguin Books, 1999, p. 335.] . Ever since there has been a "ministry of welcome" in Lourdes, receiving and caring for all the pilgrims who come to the apparition site, especially the sick and infirm.
The HNDL is active in Lourdes during the main pilgrimage season (which normally lasts from Easter until November), and it also provides people to welcome pilgrims at the "Piscines" (Baths) during the winter. Pilgrimage groups are associated with many different organisations and charities. Many are from a specific region (for example British pilgrims generally travel with their own diocese or archdiocese), while others are based around a specific type of pilgrim. An example of this is the UK's Handicapped Children's Pilgrimage Trust (
HCPT). HCPT takes disabled children and their carers on pilgrimage to Lourdes. HCPT groups are numbered, e.g. group 83 which leaves from Coventry. Another example is the Catholic Association Pilgrimage, which includes various dioceses, the Carmelites and groups under one umbrella.
The five-domed St. Mary's
Ukrainian Catholic Churchin Lourdes was designed by Myroslav Nimciv, while its interior polychromedecorations were by famed artist Jerzy Nowosielski. The church is about a 10-minute walk from the basilicaand the grotto, on a streetnamed in honor of Ukraine, situated on a narrow piece of property close to the railroad station. Visible from the basilica, the height of the building makes up for its breadth [http://www.ukrweekly.com/Archive/2006/190643.shtml] .
The Ukrainian Catholic church is located on 8 Rue de l'Ukraine, 65100 Lourdes, France
Scepticism and criticism
Since the earliest of the apparitions, Lourdes has been the subject of intense debate regarding their nature. The earliest investigators, including the priest Abbé
Dominique Peyramale, and the Police Commissioner M. Dominique Jacomet, were both initially convinced they were dealing with a hoax (each later changed his mind), and several researchers have since called several aspects of the Lourdes phenomenon into question.Fact|date=September 2008
Modern Lourdes has no shortage of glitz on display. Some visitors may dislike the commercialism practised in parts of Lourdes, with neon-emblazoned gift shops overflowing with what
Malcolm Muggeridge, although a supporter of the shrine, called "tawdry relics, the bric-a-brac of piety". [Malcolm Muggeridge contrasts the "tawdry relics, the bric-a-brac of piety" with the spiritual phenomena he describes experiencing in Lourdes.("Jesus Rediscovered", A Visit To Lourdes, Fontana 1969. [http://www.worldinvisible.com/library/mugridge/jred/jredch14.htm] ] Critics argue that the Lourdes phenomenon is nothing more than a significant money spinner for the town and the region, which therefore has a strong vested interest in keeping the pilgrims coming; ["Consuming Visions -Mass Culture and the Lourdes Shrine, Suzanne Kaufman", Book reviewed by Lawrence S. Cunningham University of Notre Dame, Commonweal 23 September 2005. [http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Religion+Booknotes-a0137089781] ] however, the trinket shops are privately owned, and hawkers and souvenir stalls are strictly forbidden inside the sanctuary itself.
Although the town is most famous for its shrines it is also notable for its
Rugby unionteam, FC Lourdeswhich during the mid-twentieth century was one of the most successful teams in France, winning the national championship 8 times from 1948 to 1968. Their most famous player is Jean Pratwho represented his country 51 times.
There is also an amateur football team called
Football Club Lourdais XI.
In popular culture
* The movie "Song of Bernadette", based on a novel by
Franz Werfelwhich tells the occurrences at Lourdes, won 4 Academy Awardsin 1944.
George Carlinfrequently made references to Lourdes in some Catholic-related skits.
* Pop icon Madonna named her daughter Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon after the town.
* The character Cochepaille from "
Les Misérables" is from Lourdes.
Château fort de Lourdes
* [http://www.lourdes-france.org/index.php?goto_centre=ru&contexte=en&id=405 The Official Website of the Lourdes Sanctuaries]
* [http://www.lourdes2008.com/index_en.html Lourdes 2008] , Official site for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions
* [http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18729/18729-h/18729-h.htm Lourdes] , by Robert Hugh Benson, 1914, from
* [http://www.catholicassociation.co.uk Catholic Association UK] , details more information on Lourdes.
* [http://panoramiques.net/accueil.php?mots=lourdes%20sanctuaires Lourdes Sanctuary 360 panoramas] fr icon
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Look at other dictionaries:
Lourdes — Lourdes … Deutsch Wikipedia
Lourdes — Notre Dame de Lourdes † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Notre Dame de Lourdes Notre Dame de Lourdes, in the Department of Hautes Pyrenées, France, is far famed for the pilgrimage of which it is a centre and for the extraordinary events that… … Catholic encyclopedia
LOURDES — Lourdes 4 281 habitants au recensement de 1852 doit sa célébrité aux apparitions de 1858 (11 fév. 16 juill.). Bernadette Soubirous, 14 ans, analphabète et sans instruction religieuse, asthmatique et encore impubère, est la fille d’un meunier… … Encyclopédie Universelle
Lourdes — [lurd ]: französischer Wallfahrtsort. * * * Lourdes [lurd], Stadt im Département Hautes Pyrénées, Südfrankreich, 410 m über dem Meeresspiegel, am Austritt des Gave de Pau aus den Pyrenäen, 16 300 Einwohner; Pyrenäenmuseum. Lourdes ist einer der … Universal-Lexikon
Lourdes — f English and Spanish (borne almost exclusively by Roman Catholics): from the name of the place in southern France where a shrine was established after a young peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, had visions of the Virgin Mary and uncovered a… … First names dictionary
Lourdes — a small town in southwest France where Roman Catholics believe that Saint Bernadette saw the Virgin ↑Mary appear. They consider Lourdes to be a holy place, and many sick people go there because they believe that the water there is holy and has… … Dictionary of contemporary English
Lourdes — Grafía asentada en el uso español de la localidad francesa donde se encuentra el santuario de la Virgen del mismo nombre: «Cerca ya de la frontera española, paramos en Lourdes y nos acercamos a la gruta de Bernadette» (Leguina Nombre [Esp. 1992]) … Diccionario panhispánico de dudas
Lourdes — (spr. Luhrd, Lapardum), Stadt im Arrondissement Argelès des französischen Departements Hautes Pyrénées, am Gave de Pau; Festung zur Vertheidigung eines Pyrenäenpasses, Staatsgefängniß; Leinenweberei; Marmorbrüche; 4200 Ew … Pierer's Universal-Lexikon
Lourdes — (spr. lurd ), Stadt im franz. Depart. Oberpyrenäen, Arrond. Argelès, 386–420 m ü. M., in schöner Gebirgsgegend am rechten Ufer des Gave de Pau, Knotenpunkt der Südbahn, hat ein ehemals festes Schloß (teilweise aus dem 14. Jahrh.), das malerisch… … Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon
Lourdes — (spr. lurd), Stadt im franz. Dep. Hautes Pyrénées, am Gave de Pau, (1901) 8708 E.; die nahe Massavielle Grotte seit der angeblichen Erscheinung der Mutter Gottes (1858) Wallfahrtsort (jährlich etwa 200.000 Pilger), mit wundertätiger Quelle [Karte … Kleines Konversations-Lexikon
Lourdes — (izg. Lȕrd) m grad u J Francuskoj; mjesto hodočašća … Veliki rječnik hrvatskoga jezika