In 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto of Massabielle. The girl was 14 years old. During these appearances, she dug into the ground to collect water there. This source of water was quickly deemed miraculous. Bernadette entered a convent in 1864, died in 1879, and was canonised in 1933. Meanwhile, a basilica was built over the spring.
The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception of Lourdes soon proved insufficient to accommodate all the pilgrims. The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary was later built, then a third, the Basilica of St. Pius X. Together they make up the Lourdes sanctuary of mercy, the most important pilgrimage centre in Europe. Six million people gather here every year.
The jubilee proclaimed by Pope Francis will give them the opportunity to follow a course punctuated by rituals and to be consistent with their faith, deep within themselves.