France: Lourdes’s Sanctuary Is Once Again Open to Pilgrims

June 16, 2020

Closed since March, the sanctuary of Lourdes reopened, at first partially on May 16, 2020 “for individual pilgrims in the vicinity,” and only in the afternoon. Beginning on May 27, it is open to pilgrims all day.

With the deconfinement measures announced on June 2, pilgrims from all over France and soon from around the world can once again come to pray at the foot of the Grotto. The sanctuary is resuming its usual hours, while the continuous prayer by the chaplains at the grotto, during confinement, has ended. From March 17 to May 30, more than 130,000 intentions from the faithful around the world have been entrusted to Our Lady of Lourdes. The prayers, broadcast live on the sanctuary's website, followed one after another from morning to evening.

However, the reception conditions remain specific. The pools remain closed, and white circles on the ground indicate where to stand, to maintain social distancing. “The pace is slowly picking up, but it’s nice to see people again,” rejoice the sisters interviewed by La Croix. “Be that as it may,” warns Bishop Benoît Ribadeau Dumas, rector of the sanctuary, “the real return to normal will probably not take place in 2020.”

This raises many concerns because the financial situation of the sanctuary is worrisome. The operating loss at the end of the season is estimated at 8 million euros. A “historic” deficit due to the mass cancellation of pilgrimages, which are the main source of income.