Grotto of Massabielle
With spiritual tourism on the rise, the sacred grotto of Lourdes is experiencing a revival. The sacred spring was discovered by 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 during one of her 18 visions of the Virgin Mary in a riverside grotto, is its most famous effluence. More than six million visitors a year come to Lourdes to pray, bathe, or simply gawk at its reputed healing source. Bernadette’s own accounts of her visions in the Grotto of Massabielle (old rock) were actually quite understated. She reported seeing a little girl wearing a white dress with a blue belt and a yellow rose on each foot. For weeks, she simply called her (in the local patois) “aqueró,” or “that thing.” But when a friend of Bernadette’s dipped her paralyzed arm in the spring and was instantly healed, crowds began to gather.