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Home » Trip to Lourdes with Fra Elia – July 2023

Trip to Lourdes with Fra Elia – July 2023

    The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes was built gradually over time and now covers 50 hectares. The Grotto of Apparitions is the heart of the sanctuary. This is where the Virgin Mary first appeared to the young Bernadette, on 11 February 1858. Pilgrims line up there in single file to lightly touch the rock with their fingertips, they see the spring water and pray.

    Fra Elia’s journey

    Accompanied as always by Don Marco, Fra Elia and his brothers flew to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, a desired place conducive to contemplation. It was not an official journey but a free and hidden one.

    The calmness of the place, the fervor of those present, and the symbols of the site are fundamental elements for those in search of spirituality. For all of them it was an intense and unique experience.


    In prehistoric times, assorted nomadic tribes had made Lourdes one of their settlements, of which one of their legacies include the still-standing Château Fort. The castle was then made into an estate jail throughout the 17th century and again during the Napoleon era.

    Lourdes was the victim of a number of power struggles. In the 8th century, skirmishes erupt between Mirat, the local leader of the Muslims of Al-Andalus and Charlemagne, King of the Franks. According to legend, an eagle unexpectedly dropped a trout at the feet of Mirat. Seen as a sign of bad omen, Mirat eventually surrendered the fort and converted to Christianity, taking the name Lorus of which was the origin of the name of this city, Lourdes.

    In the Middle Ages, for 45 years, Lourdes belonged to England as France surrendered from the Hundred Years War. In 1405, King Charles VI launched an operation to capture the city in an 18-month siege. The next century, the town witnessed another conquest between the Roman Catholics, the Protestants, and the Huguenots; the former of which eventually won and claimed the town in 1592.

    Until the apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1858, Lourdes was just a sleepy town of 4,000 residents and a transit town for tourists hiking into the Pyrenees.

    The apparition of Mary

    On 11 February 1858, 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous along with her sister, Toinette, and a friend named Jeanne were gathering firewood near the grotto at Massabielle when the former heard the sound of a gushing wind. Lifting her head, she saw a small lady, bathed in light, looking at her and smiling. This would be followed by a near-daily apparition for 17 times from that July. Progressively, the whole town believed the story. The grotto was soon barricaded however, as reportedly 9,000 people witness the 15th apparition, but was reopened by the order of Emperor Louis Napoleon III that October.

    The effects of the apparition are certainly enormous, especially after the Catholic Church confirmed the apparitions in 1870. A shrine was built there and was soon designated as one of the pilgrimage destinations of Roman Catholics around the world. People also take home or bathe in its spring water which is believed to have healing effects.

    The term Immaculate Conception was said by Mary as she introduced herself to Bernadette. As for Bernadette, she entered into a religious order 8 years later, settled in Nevers and is celebrated as one of the saints of the Church.

    Photo Gallery

    Other info

    The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is open all year and various celebrations are held in several languages.
    The pilgrimage season covers the period from Easter to the end of October. During this period, there are several special events including:

    • The International Military Pilgrimage in May
    • The Pilgrimage of the Order of Malta in May
    • The Motorcyclists’ Pilgrimage in June
    • The Assumptionists’ Pilgrimage in August
    • The Italian National Pilgrimage in September
    • The Rosary and Gardians’ Pilgrimages in October
    • There are also other important dates in Lourdes, like the anniversary of the first apparition on 11 February.


    Lourdes is mainly mild, especially compared to Paris or northern France, and relatively rainy, regardless of the season. That said sunny or partly cloudy days can be especially easier to be found in the summer. Winter is usually cool though nighttime temperatures below 0°C are not unheard of and can last for a couple days.

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