With the Our Lady of Lourdes epithet, Catholic refer to Mary, mother of Jesus, who in 1858 appeared eighteen times to Bernadette Soubirous, a fourteen year old peasant who lived in the French town of Lourdes. The girl claimed to have seen a “beautiful Lady” dressed in white and with a blue belt in a grotto at Massabielle. This description of Our Lady of Lourdes sanctioned in a sense the typical iconography of the most common figure of Mary to the present day.
Although there were those who from the beginning doubted the words of Bernadette, near the place where the girl said to have witnessed the apparitions was erected a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. In the following years, at the cave, there arose a great sanctuary dedicated to Mary of Lourdes.
According to the detractors, Bernadette would be crazy, while for others, her visions of Our Lady of Lourdes would have been invented by Abbot Aravent, a family friend, to exonerate her father, unjustly arrested for theft. From the beginning, in any case, the debate about Our Lady of Lourdes took on national proportions, and was influenced by political and social motives as well as religious.
On the other hand, however, the devotion of the faithful to Our Lady of Lourdes, fueled by the belief of the peasant girl Bernadette, and later of her supporters, like Peyramale pastor, became so great as to warrant a formal recognition by the Church. This recognition came in 1862.
Today the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes has three main basilicas of the shrine at Lourdes, as well as the tent and Adoration Chapel, located at the grotto of the apparitions.
The worship of Our Lady of Lourdes is associated with many miraculous healings that have taken place over the years and brings thousands of people especially the sick and infirm to visit the shrine, to bathe in pools filled with water from the spring that flows from the grotto of the apparitions and drinking Lourdes water, which flows from the many fountains.