Lourdes shrine to reopen with innovations to attract pilgrims

Lourdes shrine to reopen

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France is about to reopen with several innovations to attract pilgrims.

After many months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities at the famous Marian shrine say it is imperative to attract as many visitors as possible.

That is one of the aims of the Nights of Lourdes, an innovative initiative that the shrine’s rector, Mgr. Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, announced at a June 7 press conference.

Recitals, Marian torchlight processions and Masses in front of Lourdes’ famous grotto will take place each evening beginning July 1.

The processions will be accompanied by light shows illuminating the Rosary Basilica and the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

Shrine officials have invested several hundred thousand euros for events. Most of them are free, but recitals require a €20 ticket for admission.

The Nights of Lourdes are also part of a larger program of the Estivales de Lourdes. This is an ambitious project in conjunction with “the mayor of Lourdes, the police prefecture and the sanctuary” to help revive the local economy.

“The idea is to keep visitors in Lourdes and allow hotels to accommodate people,” said the rector.

“The economy and its businesses can only bounce back through the sanctuary, the keystone of the town, and we are working on it together,” he said.

On July 16, the anniversary of the last apparition of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous, “we will renew the Lourdes United in Prayer,” Mgr Dumas noted.

“We will pray in different languages with those who are far away, so they can also gather around the grotto. This will occur at different times so that people can follow us: in the morning for Asia, mid-day for Europe, Africa and the Middle East and late afternoon for the Americas,” he said.

“We have worked with the regional health agency so a health pass isn’t necessary to access the shrine,” he said.

“For that, we have established a limit of 1,000 people for the recitals. There will be a 30,000-person limit in the sanctuary after June 30, but we probably won’t reach it,” he noted.

As for the sick, they will also be able to visit the Marian city.

“They will be safely accommodated in our health bubble. They will only have contact with the same people and are thus protected,” said the rector.


La Croix International


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