Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Sunday, March 7, 2004day link 

picture Today we drove to Lourdes. Which is a little town in the foothills of the Pyrenées visited by more than 5 million people each year, as it is a major catholic pilgrimage site. It is a beautiful and peaceful place, well placed next to some spectacular mountains. But it is also a strange town. There's almost nothing but lots and lots of hotels and souvenir shops there. And it all leads towards The Grotto. Which is a little cavity in the side of a big rock, in which you find a small spring. And it is the water of that spring that has been reported to produce lots and lots of miraculous healings and miracles in general. And I'd believe that. Well, whether the water really does anything or not, I don't know. But there's an impressive atmosphere set up for the purpose, and enough people who believe it and take it very seriously, that miraculous occurances would quite naturally occur.

On top of the rock where you find the grotto there's a large and spectacular cathedral-like church with an impressive set of stairs leading up to it, and a very impressive entrance. We were obviously there outside the season, as there wasn't really that many people, and it was clear that the whole arrangement was expecting tens of thousands of people at a time. You line up for the entrance into the grotto, where I suppose you'll know what to do if you're a good catholic. The rocks are black and smooth from being touched by millions of people. And you buy large candles that you can light and leave in an area for that purpose, together with a prayer.

So, we did stock up on healing water from Lourdes. You can buy many kinds of containers in the shops, which you fill yourself from the spring, but we didn't go for the 5 liter models, just some little ones. And the water tasted nice and fresh.

For more about Lourdes and the visions of Bernadette Soubirous that started the whole thing, read for example here or here
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