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 is said to have appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. Religious processions take place daily for most of the year. (Wikipedia)
I distinctly remember how I was missing my first born the last time we were in Lourdes. It was late January 2000, our first time to leave our baby boy behind as we embarked on a 24 day European Tour thanks to Lola Chabeng. We arrived midmorning after our 36hour journey via HK and Paris. We were dead tired but had no excuses to wallow in bed as we only had one full day to pay homage to our Lady. I recall how the waves of people led us – crossing the bridge overlooking the Gave De Pau river, breezing by hectic souvenir shops filled with religious memorabilia until arriving at the square where an open mass for thousands was held. As we navigated past the crowd – young, old, strong and disabled hand in hand, we found our way to the Grotto then taking our cue by the Baths. We dedicated our hours in line to prayer and as we took that chilling dip – we felt baptized anew! Not to mention – it was the best remedy for our jetlag. In the evening we attended the procession with our candles at hand – It was a powerful experience watching scores of pilgrims (from all walks of life) coming together in faith.
Such was our savored memory of the place that it was a must to pay homage to her again! We were forewarned and prepared to face the crowds but to our pleasant surprise, it was empty! We came at an off peak season – but that day was even more peaceful than expected. It was wonderful having the place almost all to ourselves, like we were really meant to visit it that day!