I had the opportunity to go to Lourdes twice. My first time was in November of 2004 when I had the opportunity to preside and preach at the Mass in the Grotto. I was also able to go into the water (bath) that still flows today from the spring that Bernadette had dug at Our Lady's request. I also visited the convent in Nevers where she lived and died and her body is incorrupt.
The incredible recovery of a French man, who walked the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route in Spain after being cured of a paralysed left leg following a trip to Lourdes is being examined as a possible 68th miracle of the shrine.
Serge Francois, a TV repair worker said he felt a warm glow spread down his herniated leg during a visit to Lourdes in 2002.
After having prayed at the Lourdes Grotto (above) Mr Francois reported the healing to the international Medical Committee of Lourdes (CMIL) and 20 doctors have agreed on the remarkable nature of the healing.
“In the name of the Church, I publicly recognise the ‘remarkable’ character of the healing from which Serge Francois benefited at Lourdes on April 12, 2002,” said Bishop Emmanuel Delmas of Angers in western France, where Francois lives. “This healing can be considered a personal gift from God to man, as an event of grace, as a sign of Christ the Saviour.”
Bishop Delmas said Mr Francois’ case would now be examined further before it is officially recorded as the 68th miracle of Lourdes.
He said that because of advances in medical science it was becoming increasingly difficult to officially class a remarkable healing as a miracle.
PARIS — Thousands of people, many disabled or ailing, were evacuated Sunday from the shrine at Lourdes in southern France after a bomb threat on the Catholic holy day of Assumption.
Some 30,000 pilgrims were at the site in the foothills of the Pyrenees late morning when Lourdes police received a threat saying a bomb would hit the site Sunday afternoon, said shrine spokesman Pierre Adias.
Police ordered everyone evacuated, and explosives experts were sent to scour the area. The pilgrims were told to leave just as the midday Mass was meant to begin. "The shrine is currently empty," Adias told The Associated Press by telephone.
No other information was immediately available about the source or nature of the threat.
Live coverage of Sunday's services on the website of TV Lourdes was not available, for reasons "independent of our will," according to a message on its home page.
The Aug. 15 holiday sees a particularly large influx of pilgrims at Lourdes, reputed for its healing powers. Some pilgrims came to this year's ceremonies in wheelchairs, others supported by loved ones, in images shown on French television.
Assumption marks the heavenly assumption of the Virgin Mary, and is a public holiday in France and several other countries.
The Roman Catholic shrine at Lourdes has a special meaning for the suffering, many of whom believe that its spring water has the power to heal and even work miracles.
The sick bathe in pools of the cool water and take it home in plastic jugs and vials in the shape of the Virgin Mary. Thousands of people have claimed to be cured there, and the Roman Catholic church has officially recognized 67 incidents of miraculous healing linked to Lourdes.
Pope Benedict XVI came to Lourdes in 2008, marking the 150th anniversary of visions of the Virgin Mary to a Lourdes peasant girl, 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous, who was later made a saint.