Midi-Pyrenees in France: Lourdes town is not just about religion (1)
Lourdes is a small town located in Pyrenees mountain. Each year it attracts crowds all over the world to visit, and in fact, these visitors are attracted by the same reason – this was the place where Virgin Mary showed her divine power. At the nineteenth century, this area was just a simple town, a 14-year-old girl Bernadette Soubirous encountered Virgin Mary in a stone cave and later, the Vatican recognized this place as one of the holy lands. At the first moment upon arrival to Lourdes, what I saw was the mountain full of clouds and fogs, breathing fresh air with a little moisture, and this makes people feel that this is a typical resort attractions. However, after taking a break in the hotel, I took a section of the road to the town's main street where you will find bustling, crowded streets full of souvenir shops. These stores are all related to the sale of Virgin Mary commodities, from key rings to mini-statue, everything, and each shop is with an endless stream of people.
In view of the special background of this place, most tourists coming to this place are keen believers, and we could also see a lot of nuns delegation, and also disabled persons who wished to be cured. During the day, people can be seen queuing to pay the respects to "Our Lady of Lourdes" at the bottom of the church - that is, where the rural girl Bernadette Soubirous witnessed apparitions of Virgin Mary and now here sets a statue. In the evening, the church will hold Mass attracting thousands of people hoping to be blessed by the Lady and getting a miracle coming – especially for those who are sick. Believers hold candles quietly moving with the team slowly forward, and finally arrange neatly in front of the church to sing hymns in unison. In that moment standing alongside the stairs in the church, looking down the night in the hands of people, listening to their prayer songs, the heart will indeed feel so calm.
In addition having such a special religious experience in Lourdes, there is an ancient fortress (Chateau Fort of Lourdes), located at the highest point of the fort is also worth a visit. In the next day, the weather was nice and I spent a morning visiting the exhibition inside the bunker to understand the history of this place. You can also enjoy the view of the entire city on the mountain, or sitting in a chair in the shade to enjoy the good weather. - To be continued -