Lourdes, France.

At Lourdes, the Virgin Mary appeared to a young girl named Bernadette on eighteen separate occasions in a small rock grotto beginning in the year 1858. A miraculous freshwater spring, said to have healing powers, began flowing at the grotto.

The Catholic Church approved the apparitions, and today millions of pilgrims come from all over the world to cleanse their spirits and heal their bodies through the water that flows constantly from the spring at Lourdes. In fact, a recent medical study concluded that, to date, over two thousand, five hundred inexplicable healings have occurred here.

When introducing the spring, Our Lady told the visionary Bernadette, "Go and drink from the spring, and wash yourself there."

Today, many pilgrims drink the water hoping for cures and blessings, while others bottle it up to take home. In addition, over four hundred thousand visitors a year choose to be totally immersed in the water, which takes place in the bathhouse.

Throughout the course of the apparitions, Our Lady gave Bernadette several messages that would be instrumental in making Lourdes what many today call The Capital of Prayer.

When Bernadette asked her vision for a name, Mary replied, "I am the Immaculate Conception."

During the 15th apparition, Our Lady gave a special message to Bernadette. "Go and tell the priest to build a chapel here and to have people come in procession."

Not only was the Blessed Mother's request granted then, it is now being fulfilled like never before… almost one hundred and fifty years later! More and more pilgrims are coming to Lourdes, many of them stricken with debilitating illnesses or handicaps and searching for cures. The procession of the sick, where thousands of ill pilgrims are walked through the courtyards at Lourdes, further fulfills Our Lady's request. Also, every night at Lourdes, thousands of pilgrims come bearing candles to participate in the torchlight procession.

The Church has attributed at least sixty-five genuine miracles to the action of God through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes, most of these involving miraculous healings. Many more cases are being investigated. With increased numbers of ailing pilgrims finding solace in Lourdes, that number is sure to increase.

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