Join the millions of visitors who flock to one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in the world, a place associated with miraculous visions and healing waters.
The Grotto of Massabielle, also known as the Grotto of Apparitions, is visited by about 6 million pilgrims every year. Visit the site of a spring which was unearthed by a teenage peasant in the 19th century after a visitation from the Virgin Mary. Hear stories of how the water that flows here is said to have healed countless visitors since it was first discovered.
Follow in the footsteps of Bernadette Soubirous, the 14 year old who encountered an apparition of a young woman in a white dress, believed to be Jesus’ mother, who told her about the location of the spring. Later on, one of Bernadette’s friends had their paralyzed arm healed by the spring and word spread of this miraculous place.
Arrive in Lourdes and look for the Sanctuary of Notre Dame de Lourdes, the complex of churches that surround this sacred place. Walk around the side of the basilicas to an open, paved space with wooden benches set out facing the cave.
Find the line of people waiting to see the spring. Many visitors run their hands along the stone walls of the cave as they approach it. A statue of Mary overlooks the pilgrims as they pass the humble spring that continues to flow here. Popes, priests and pilgrims have all visited the site of the apparition.
Keep moving past the grotto to find the baths, where sick pilgrims can immerse themselves in the spring water. Many believe that these waters still contain powerful healing properties. Volunteer assistants are on hand to lower the visitors into the water. Taps of the spring water also face the grotto.
The Grotto of Massabielle is located beneath the Basilica of Notre Dame de l’Immaculée-Conception, in the pilgrimage center of the town. Walk here in about 20 minutes from the train station in the north of Lourdes. Admission is free, but remember that many visitors are here as religious pilgrims, so treat the grotto with respect.