BY Peter Diamond | March 20 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Shrine at Lourdes closes for the first time in its history

The sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes has closed for the first time in over a century following new restrictions in France to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“For the first time in its history, the sanctuary will close its doors for a while. Pray with us the novena to the Immaculate,” Mgr Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, rector of the Lourdes sanctuary announced on March 17.

No public Masses will be offered in the sanctuary due to national measures announced by French President Emmanuel Macron on the evening of March 16.

Following the closure of Lourdes, French Auxiliary Bishop Antoine Hérouard of Lille called on Catholics to participate in a novena to Our Lady of Lourdes from March 17 to March 25, asking them to pray for the sick who have been infected with the coronavirus.

Novena for Annunciation

“The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is a privileged place of prayer for and with the sick,” Bishop Hérouard said in his introduction to the novena published on March 17.

The French bishop is asking everyone to commit to praying the rosary for nine consecutive days, concluding on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation.

March 25 is also the anniversary of the Virgin Mary’s 16th apparition at Lourdes in which Our Lady declared to St Bernadette Soubirous ‘I am the Immaculate Conception.’

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France is built upon the site where the young Bernadette Soubirous witnessed Marian apparitions, beginning on February 11, 1858.

Healing properties


The shrine also holds a spring of water which is said to have miraculous healing properties.

While there have been more than 7,000 miraculous recoveries attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes at the French shrine, only 70 cases have been officially recognised by the Catholic Church.

A miraculous recovery must generally be a complete, spontaneous and immediate healing from a documented medical condition.

The last official miracle attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes was declared in 2018.

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