February 10, 2012. (Romereports.com)
The city of Rome is the most visited site by Catholics in the world. Many would think the second most visited could could be found in the Holy Land, but it's actually in the small town of Lourdes, France, close to the border of Spain.
It's home to one of the most important shrines dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This February 11th will mark the 154th anniversary since the first miracle that took place there in the year 1858. There will also be a special Mass this year for those asking for help from the Virgin Mary, especially in light of the financial crisis.
The Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes a total of 18 times, who told Bernadette to drink water from a nearby spring. Then, Catherine Latapie was the first person to be miraculously cured. She was healed of paralysis, after drinking the spring water. On the same day she was cured, she gave birth to a boy who later became a priest. Over the years, a total of 67 people have witnessed a miracle at the site.
Since then it has become one of the biggest pilgrimage sites in the world, with over 6 million visitors every year. Many travel independently, finding their own way, others come in groups of pilgrims like The Society of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Many of those who make the journey claim they feel much better afterward. Only a small percentage of these have been deemed miracles
by the Catholic Church. It's said many feel better just by making the journey. Whether it's the healing power of the water or the journey itself, many visitors take home their own bottle of spring water from the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes