PARIS (AP) — One of the Catholic Church’s holiest sites, Lourdes, is holding its first-ever online pilgrimage on Thursday, to mark the anniversary of claims by 19th-century girl Bernadette Soubirous that the Virgin Mary appeared to her.
July 16 marks the anniversary of Bernadette’s visions, and the discovery of allegedly healing spring waters. It led the church to build a cathedral there in southern France near the Pyrenees.
The day-long celebrations include Masses, processions and prayers, in addition to priests and guests speaking about how Lourdes has impacted their lives. It’s being called “Lourdes United,” and is being broadcast all day until 10 p.m.
As well as being a holy site, Lourdes also attracts around 3 million pilgrims a year — the second most popular place after Paris — and the region’s tourism has badly suffered during the coronavirus crisis.