The mainly entrances at the Sanctuary zone are 4:
- The St. Michel Gate who show at the pilgrim an amazing view on the “Esplanade” from the imposing ordeal of the Britons to the basilicas of the Rosary and the Immaculate Conception..
- The St. Joseph Gate, main entrance situated on the side on The Monsignor Laurence Square.
- The Upper Gate situated in the upper place of the Basilicas, level with the crypt in front of the Way of the Cross.
- The entrance from the Basin Dr Boissarie at the foot of Salus Infirmorum at the bottom of the public parking car. It is very convenient for access to the shrines starting from Salus and passing to the Accueil Notre Dame.
These Entrances are open the whole year from the 05.00 a.m. to midnight. During the night hours it is always possible enter and exit from the shrines through the ever open Gate called “Les lacets” that you find near the Grotto, where, from with a winding path, you reach the Road Mgr Laurence beyond the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, near the museum of the treasure.
It seems like a huge square in front of the Basilica of the Rosary, which embraces two ramps enveloping elliptical, rising to big arcs to the upper platform, on which rests the Crypt and the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Situated on the left bank of the Gave, is the backdrop to the great torch-lit of the evening.
Entering from the St Michel Gate you are welcomed by the cross of the Britons, a Hermot opera of the 1900.
THE VIRGIN CROWNED
It is situated in the middle of Esplanade and it sees the influx of pilgrims since 1876. It’s a statue of 250 cm painted in bronze, standing on a stone column. Work of a Parisian sculptor, on her arm she holds up a crown of six dozen. It is at the center of the devotion of pilgrims that, every day of the year, they put it countless bouquets of colorful flowers on the fence that surrounds her.
Before the apparitions the grotto of Massabielle, a simple hollow in the rock, was a place run down and forgotten. Was not of any interest. Difficult to achieve because of a drainage channel which ran a short distance before entering the river Gave.
In that loop was easy to find firewood brought by the river and for this reason the cave becomes the destination for the 11th February in 1858 for the three young girls carefree.
From that day becomes the center of attention for millions of people with devotion that they directed their gaze to that rock where “the Lady, dressed all in white, with a blue sash and a yellow rose on each foot …” said to Bernadette “Boulet me He era grazia de bié aci penden quinze dias?” “Do you want to do me the favor to come here for fifteen days?”.
On March 25, 1858, at the 16th apparition, Our Lady tells Bernadette in the dialect of Bigorre: “Que soy era Immaculada Concepciou” “I am the Immaculate Conception”
This inscription reads on the pedestal of the statue placed in the hollow of the rock. This is a work of the sculptor Hugues Joseph Fabish, carved into the Carrara marble in the 1864 and offers to the Sanctuary from Elfride e Sabine de Lacour of Lyon. “She’s this and she isn’t this” said Bernadette when they show her this sculpture, it is only a pale image of the “Beautiful Lady” who had appeared to her.
At the foot of the statue there is also a rose garden, of which the catholic priest of Lourdes Abbé Peyramale has asked for flowering to proof the authenticity of the apparitions. This miracle is never happened. Inside the Grotto, at the left of the altar is visible the source that Bernadette, the 25th February 1858, day of the 9th apparition, she has discovered digging out in the place indicated by the Virgin. This water, which has nothing of amazing
(the analyzes relieve a normal drinking water without particular property) is channeled towards the fountains and pools. Drink this water, bring it at home, wash oneself, are acts of faith.
Every year millions of pilgrims gather in front of this Grotto to meet in prayer; they love to touch and kiss this rock as a sign of faith towards God, the live rock on which we build solidly our lives.
On the road that lead to the cave you will find the fountains of water of Lourdes, became famous all over the world (48 of 66 unexplained healings recognized by the Church arise from this water).
Here the pilgrims make action of penance, they bathe their hands, face, collect the water in small containers to bring it to their loved ones. Let’s ask the Lord with this action to purify our hearts and renew the gift of the grace of Baptism, repeating the actions when Bernadette on the 25th February, during the 9th apparition, she found the source.
Let’s remember in our actions that “it is not the quantity that is important,” like the advice of our Bernadette.
The first pool filled with spring water was already three days after his appearance (February 28, 1858).
Today the Pools are located in the area organized immediately after the cave.
Here they find comfort in faith, thousands of pilgrims each year (350,000) that are absorbed in the totality of the mystery of the message of Lourdes.
Undressing and bathe in this water responding to the invitation of Mary to wash at the source, is to recognize our smallness in front of the mystery.
The Pools (17) are open every day from 9 am to 11 am and from 2.30 pm to 4 pm; Sundays and holidays only in the afternoon.
No need to wear your costume or other. A tarp to cover us is provided by volunteers, and they also will help us to immerse ourselves in this water for a few seconds.
Bernadette on April 7th, 1858 during the 17th apparition, went to the cave bringing with her a lighted candle. During the ecstasy the flame brushed the hand for several minutes but Bernadette did not suffer any burns (miracle of the candle).
The light, the flame of the candle is a symbol of the message of Lourdes. The torchlight procession in the evening is the daily witness of the condition of millions of pilgrims to this sign. It is a tradition to tie our prayers, our vote to the offer of a candle.
THE WAY OF THE CROSS ON THE MOUNTAIN
The Way of the Cross is divided into 15 stations monumental that run over a distance of about 1600 meters up the hill of “Espélugues” overlooking the Sanctuary. 115 bronze statues by sculptor Raffler in natural size lead us along the 15 stations.
It is a suggestive way, in the green and quiet where every pilgrim can closely follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ to Calvary. The Way of the Cross was inaugurated in the 1912 by the Cardinal Lucon Archbishop of Reims.
The first station depicting the condemnation of Jesus is located on top of the “Holy Stairs”, made up of 28 steps that a sign of penance pilgrims can go up with his knees.
The last station depicts the resurrection where a circular stone lead us into the mystery of the Gospel “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?”.
After, down the hill, we find the cave of Epelugues known as a place of first human settlement in the region 12,000 years ago.
The Way of the Cross on the mountain is not recommended by the security services of the sanctuary for disabled people as the path is very steep and bumpy.
THE WAY OF THE CROSS IN THE PRAIRIE
It is located on the right bank of the Gave, the bottom of the prairie, after the Adoration pavilion. A series of bas-reliefs on stone pillars reminds us of the 15 stations. Here are the possible community celebrations with members sick and the surrounding space provides a particular meeting of the pilgrimage.
THE WAY OF THE CROSS IN GEMMAIL
Another work of particular artistic value on the theme of the Cross is located in the Basilica of St. Pius X, where along the ramps you can meditate on the Way of the Cross thanks to a work of high artistic value in Gemmail (a technique that involves the overlapping colored glasses), inspired by the passion of Christ.
MEDICAL FINDINGS OFFICE
The A.M.I.L. (Association of International Physicians Lourdes) collects among its members all the medical and paramedical staff that lives the moment of the pilgrimage in Lourdes, as the choice of faith within their own profession.
Has its headquarters at the “Bureau des Constatations Médical”, here are exhibited photographs and documents that testify to the miraculous healings at Lourdes.
There have always been and still are many healings in Lourdes, the first miraculous healing was of Catherine Latapie, which her right hand was completely paralyzed. The healing took place on the 1st March 1858 when, after having prayed intensely, she had soaked her hand into the source discovered by Bernadette.
Since then there have been about 6,500 unexplained healings, the Church has officially recognized only 69.