Lourdes is visited by almost 6 million pilgrims every year! It is the third most important pilgrimage site for Catholics in the world, and has the second largest hotel capacity in France! The Basilica of the Rosary with 15 chapels decorated in Venetian mosaic, and the underground Saint Pie X basilica are two of the most important examples of the local religious heritage. Visit them on the discovery trail which traces the route followed by Bernadette Soubirous through the town.
It was in 1858, while collecting wood for the fire, that Bernadette Soubirous saw a lady dressed in white in the Massabielle cave for the first time. Neither her sister, nor the friend with them, saw her. The strange event repeated itself several times.
First the Lourdes population rushed in dozens, then by the hundred, to accompany the teenager to the cave.
The rumour spread, and on the 25th of March, the Lady revealed to Bernadette that she was the Immaculate Conception.
She appeared before Bernadette 18 times between February and July, asking her to tell the priests “that people come here in a procession, and build a chapel.” Religious believers started to flood in, firstly from the local surroundings, then from around France, and the whole world.
The Bishop of Tarbes officially recognised the visions in 1862.
The rest is history, and the miracle is as economic as it is religious.



Pope Jean-Paul II (1983 and 2004), Pope Benoît XVI (2008), Presidents of the French Republic (Jacques Chirac in 2004, François Hollande in 2013) and millions of pilgrims from around the world have consecrated Lourdes as one of the capitals of Christianity.
Four sanctuaries in the Pyrenees: Lourdes, Pilar at Sarragosse and Torreciudad in Aragon, and Montserrat in Catalonia comprise the “The Marian Route” association.