The Salus Infirmorum is the home Unitalsi in Lourdes for our disabled guests. It is located a few meters from the Sanctuary with a beautiful view of the Gave River near the Quai Boissarie, and it has a second entrance on the impending Pau street, which leads to the railway station.
The structure was the old Bethanie hotel built in the early ‘900 and coveted by many pilgrims because of its location, the view over the Sanctuary and the majesty of the building.
The hotel was given the name “Bethanie” (Bethany), in memory of a trip to the Holy Land, which marked in a special way the former owners. There, in fact, they received from the guardian a stone of the Lazarus tomb to bring to Lourdes that is now preserved in the main wall of the ground floor with a written ” ex tumuli lapidibus Lazzaro.”
It is said that in 1972, the year of purchase by Unitalsi of this hotel, the owners have chosen our association between the different purchasers, in memory of the words of the Franciscan guardian of the tomb who said “I give you this stone, your home “Bethanie” will become a house always open to the sufferer.
In 1972 Unitalsi began to manage the old hotel by creating a home that can accommodate 167 patients self-sufficient. As such it has been managed for 21 seasons able to welcome more than ninety thousand sick of our association.
In 1994 and 1998, the Salus undergoes two important changes in order to better accommodate pilgrims in needs. The Unitalsi committed significant resources in order to create an ideal, modern, technologically advanced, place of welcome for the sick members.
The renovation has expanded the old structure, it was welded together a part of Coecilia hotel, situated on Rue de Pau above.
With these bold steps the home has reached the capacity of 270 beds (1995) and then move to 348 beds.
In June 1995 the pilgrimage of sick children has officially opened the new facility.
The restructuring continues over the years, rationalizing spaces by creating new opportunities of service, and the Salus becomes more and more the home of Unitalsi members in Lourdes; we remember, for example, the “Self Service” open to volunteers in service (2003) and capable of accommodate up 250/300 guests per shift catering available.
The complexity of the house, the potentiality many times hidden, the changing needs of the individual sections, have suggested to write this little manual that wants to be a benefit to all the volunteers and the professionals, who in some way are called upon to prepare and to enjoy the stay in the Salus.