April 9, 2012. (Romereports.com)
A pilgrimage is generally taken in search of faith or as an expression of belief. For Catholics, some of the most popular include Guadalupe in Mexico, Portugal's shrine of Fatima, as well as the city at the heart of Catholicism: Rome.
Each has their own significance, but one that continues to call pilgrims throughout the year is Lourdes, France. And each one has their own reason for coming.
“It's basically with a religious motive, a motive of faith, and in the case of Lourdes it's especially to surrender oneself for the Virgin.”
“It's a real offering and sacrifice, obviously it's freezing cold to come out here and really show how much you love Our Lady, that's what's it's about I think, the real meaning of a pilgrimage.”
For many of the pilgrims at Lourdes, they come to pray for healing of an illness. It can be something they are suffering from, but more often they pray for those who were not able to make the trip on their own.
“It's a life long dream and as I was telling my family, some people, all their savings, all their life, they spend on this pilgrimage and for me it's a dream, it's very very special, it's very special.”
Lourdes is one of the more popular pilgrimage sites, with its spiritual importance and its beautiful location, nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains. But at the end of the day these pilgrims say they come as a way to strengthen their faith.
“Well, I think in a pilgrimage you find yourself and God, and so I believe that's why it's important to make a pilgrimage.”
Around 6 million people visit Lourdes every year. They come to pray to the Virgin Mary and see the place where St. Bernadette originally saw the apparitions of the Virgin Mary. But for many, they find strength by the act of carrying out the pilgrimage.