Lourdes is a town in the Midi-Pyrénées region of southwest France. It’s known worldwide for the Sanctuaries Notre-Dame de Lourdes, or the Domain, a major Catholic pilgrimage site. Every year, millions visit the Grotto of Massabielle where, in 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. Religious processions take place daily for most of the year.
Our Lady of Lourdes is a venerated title of the Blessed Virgin Mary invoked by Roman Catholics in honor of the Marian apparitions that occurred on numerous occasions in 1858 in the vicinity of Lourdes, France.
The first of these is the apparition of 11 February 1858, when Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old peasant girl, admitted to her mother that a “lady” spoke to her in the cave of Massabielle (a mile from the town) while she was gathering firewood with her sister and a friend.
Similar apparitions of the alleged “Lady” were reported on seventeen occasions that year, until the climax revelation of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception took place.
Bernadette Soubirous was later canonized as a Saint, and Roman Catholics and some Protestants believe her apparitions have been validated by the overwhelming popularity and testament of healing that take place at the Lourdes water spring.
In 1862, Pope Pius IX authorized Bishop Bertrand-Sévère Laurence to permit the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lourdes. On 3 July 1876, Pope Pius IX formally granted a Canonical Coronation to the image that used to be in the courtyard of what is now part of the Rosary Basilica.