Lourdes – A Video By Herman Ashley Lourdes (Occitan: Lorda) is a commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in south-western France.
Lourdes is a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees, famous for the Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes that are reported to have occurred in 1858 to Bernadette Soubirous. At that time, the most prominent feature of the town was the fortified castle that rises up from a rocky escarpment at its centre.
Following the reports that Our Lady of Lourdes had appeared to Bernadette Soubirous on a total of eighteen occasions, Lourdes has developed into a major place of Roman Catholic pilgrimage and of alleged miraculous healings. The 150th Jubilee of the first apparition took place on 11 February 2008 with an outdoor mass attended by approximately 45,000 pilgrims.
Today Lourdes has a population of around 15,000 but is able to take in some 5,000,000 pilgrims and tourists every 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 and is the largest pilgrimage site in France, the second site being the Basilica of St. Thérèse (Lisieux), in Normandie.
Lourdes is located in the area of the prime meridian in 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 1,000 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 (1,400 ft) and in a central position through which runs the fast-flowing river Gave de Pau from the south coming from its source at Gavarnie, into which flow several smaller rivers from Barèges and 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