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RU 42/2010 - LOURDES

LOURDES (ru; Oct. 31st, 2010) : First of all some figures and data. Lourdes is a city in the French department "High Pyrenees". In winter there are living 16,000 people. Lourdes can boast itself about 5 million visitors per year, of which 2 million pilgrims, with 60,000 sick and disabled. But during the Marian year 2008, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Marian apparitions, there were 9 million visitors and pilgrims, including Benedict XVI. Lourdes ranges between the 5 most visited Catholic sites in the world, with the Vatican in Italy, Fatima in Portugal, Czestochowa in Poland and Guadeloupe in Mexico. 600 tonnes of candles are burned on the site of Lourdes each year. 200 shops of religious articles welcome the masses of pilgrims, i.e. 1 store for 25,000 visitors. There are 208 hotels (with 26,000 beds, 2nd national level in France), and 4 large churches on this Marial site : the Basilica Immaculate-Conception (completed in 1871) and the Church Our Lady of the Rosary (1889) above the grotto of Massabielle, place of the apparitions of the Immaculate, then the vast underground basilica Saint Pius X (1959), as well as the latest built church Saint-Bernadette (1988) in front of the grotto, on the other side of the Gave river. As illustrious persons born in Lourdes, one can only mention, beyond St Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879), the mayor and minister of evil memory Dr. Philippe Douste-Blazy ("the condom at 1 Franc, that’s me ! ," he proudly exclaimed face to one of our friends). He is born in Lourdes in 1953, and he’s always running around, elsewhere. Finally, Lourdes has received in 2010 the international award "Internet City @@"...

By the way, let's remember that Lourdes wasn’t welcoming the Blessed Virgin from the outset. Was it not thanks to a direct intervention of the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, that the barricades by which the mayor Anselme Lacade wanted to prohibit the access to the apparition grotto in summer 1858, were lifted ? Today the media don’t finish to be surprised, or even to be scandalized, observing the ever-growing masses of pilgrims going to Lourdes. The hotels are not sufficient to accommodate those crowds, one must always build new ones, with always bigger capacities, and this is lasting already during 40 years. Of course, for the disbelievers who see in Saint Mary only a little Jewish girl who discovered worthless things in her head some 2000 years ago, the little Bernadette of Lourdes weighs even less. Without faith, Lourdes would be nothing. One must even say: Marian faith,. because the Most Holy Virgin Mary is the Sovereign of Lourdes not only since her apparitions to Bernadette in February 1858, but already since 1000 years before.
Let’s remember, in the year 732 Charles Martel, grandfather of Charlemagne, had beaten near the city of Poitiers the Arab Muslims who wanted to penetrate, from the territories occupied in Spain, further towards the centre of Europe by invading France. Barely 50 years later they attacked again, from the Pyrenees, Lourdes and occupied its strong castle. The son of Charles Martel, the noble Charlemagne, who is venerated as a saint in Germany, sent his soldiers to Lourdes in order to beleaguer the castle and to starve its occupants without destroying the city. Charlemagne’s friend and nephew archbishop Turpin of Reims negotiated in 778 a peace truce with the Moslem army leader Mirat. Turpin explained to this warrior: "I understand that you do not want to submit to a king of the earth, but I propose you to submit to the Queen of Heaven who is also the celestial Queen of France, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. In this case, you could keep the city of Lourdes, but by rendering your weapons and becoming a pacific prince of the Most Holy Virgin.” Mirat was so impressed by the sermon of Turpin that he converted and transformed Lourdes into a Marian city. It’s him who, according to the legend, called the city Louerda, or "Rose" in Arabic language, name of his own baptism, because of the Black Virgin, Our Lady of the Roses of Puy en Velais, where he pilgrimaged to pay tribute and to submit to the sweet regime of the Queen of France. Since that time Lourdes is a Marian city, and has even become a world pilgrimage centre, after that Saint Bernadette heard from the mouth of the Holy Virgin those counsels of a mother who is anxious about her children: 'Penance, penance, penance ! ", and "Do pray the Rosary! »
Why such mass movements for those severe admonitions from the Heaven? Mystery. This cannot be the only success of the site which has been so graciously arranged by the Catholic genius, even of the 19th century, it is to say just a century after the atheist French Revolution ! Perhaps a recent confidence which a Protestant friend addressed to the writer of the present report may help to understand a little this mystery: "I recognize that we, in the Protestant Church, have forgotten this treasury of heart which is the Virgin Mary; we drove her out of our churches, of our homes and of our minds, leaving a skeletal religion; we must find back this delicious path towards God, Mary!”

- O.A.M.D.G. -

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