Lourdes is widely considered the third most important site for Catholic pilgrimage, behind the Holy Land and Rome.
Every year, this Marian shrine at the foot of the Pyrenees draws millions of pilgrims to the Grotto of Massabielle where, in 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to a young local girl by the name of Marie-Bernarde Soubirous.
She was able to identify the apparitions to her parish Priest as the Immaculate Conception, despite having very limited knowledge of the Catholic doctrine at the time. This along with the multiple visions in the grotto paved the way to a canonical investigation validating the apparitions as worthy of belief.
Today the local girl is known as St. Bernadette following her canonisation in 1933 by Pope Pius XI. Over 5 million pilgrims travel to Lourdes each year to see the home of St. Bernadette’s miracles, and the place where Our Lady of Lourdes appeared eighteen times.