Describe a visit to a Christian place of pilgrimage

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  1. Describe a visit to a Christian place of pilgrimage

One Christian place of pilgrimage is located in Lourdes in the south of France. This is thought to be the site of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The history of Lourdes is as follows. In 1858 there was a girl called Bernadette Soubirous, 14, whose father was an ex-miller and whose family was poor. One day she was with her sister and her friend collecting firewood. When she was by the river bank at a place called Massabieille she heard a gust of wind and saw a lady standing in a niche above the cave entrance, dressed in white with a blue sash and a rosary around her arm. She knelt to the lady but when she told people of her visions they told her it was her imagination and that she should stay away from the cave. However, Bernadette continued to visit and the lady kept appearing. She told everyone in the village of her visions and some people followed her but did not share any of the visions. On the 25th February, a Thursday, she was told to drink and wash in the water from the cave. However there was only a tiny trickle of water in the cave and the tiny trickle became a stream pouring into the river. This stream now yields tens of thousands of gallons of water every day.  

On 2nd March she told Bernadette to build a chapel at the cave and to have processions there often. However, the priest did not believe her. The next time the lady appeared Bernadette asked her name to which she replied ‘Immaculate Conception’. The doctrine of ‘the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary’ had only been set by the Pope four years earlier. This doctrine is the belief that since Mary gave birth to Jesus who had no sin this meant she must have had no sin. When the priest head his he was convinced she was telling the truth because not many people had heard of the doctrine. The lady appeared to Bernadette 18 times in total, the last being the 16th July. During these visits the lady would ask her to pray for sinners and to do penance. Her visions attracted many visitors to the area and she was questioned by the police. The priest believed her and the Bishop set up a commission to investigate and after two years they reported that they believed she was telling the truth.  The following quote is taken from the official enquiry document.

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‘We judge that Mary Immaculate, Mother of God, really appeared to Bernadette on 11 February

1858, and on following days to the number of eighteen days in all in the Grotto of Massabieille,

near the town of Lourdes, that this apparition is endowed with all the characters of truth

and that the faithful are justified in believing in it with certainty.’

Bernadette became a nun when she was older and join the Sisters of Charity of Nevers to escape from all the attention she received. In 1864 a marble statue was set up with the ...

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