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Lourdes is a village in the Hautes-Pyrénées departement in France. It is the largest Catholic religion pilgrimage location in France. It is situated in the south of the country, in the Pyrenees region, with about 17,000 inhabitants.

It is said that in February 1858 the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a 14-year-old girl called Bernadette Soubirous in the remote Grotto of Massabelle. A statue of the Madonna of Lourdes was erected at the site in 1864. Soon previous chapel structure was replaced with a pilgrimage basilica. Bernadette Soubirous entered the Monastery of Nevers[?] in 1866 and was canonised in 1933.

Yearly from March to October the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes[?] is the place of mass pilgrimages from Europe and other parts of the world. The spring water from the grotto is believed to possess healing properties. Especially impressive are candlelight and sacrament processions.

See also: The Virgin Mary shrines, Marian apparitions

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