PARIS (AP) – One of the Catholic Churchâ€™s holiest sites, Lourdes, is holding its first-ever online pilgrimage on Thursday, to mark the anniversary of claims by 19th-century girl Bernadette Soubirous that the Virgin Mary appeared to her.
July 16 marks the anniversary of Bernadetteâ€™s visions, and the discovery of allegedly healing spring waters. It led the church to build a cathedral there in southern France near the Pyrenees.
The day-long celebrations include Masses, processions and prayers, in addition to priests and guests speaking about how Lourdes has impacted their lives. Itâ€™s being called â€œLourdes United,â€ and is being broadcast all day until 10 p.m.
As well as being a holy site, Lourdes also attracts around 3 million pilgrims a year – the second most popular place after Paris – and the regionâ€™s tourism has badly suffered during the coronavirus crisis.