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See where a French saint had her Marian apparitions

June 2, 2011 - 2:26am
Lourdes
Those who are embarking on a European pilgrimage tour are sure to make a stop in Lourdes, France, a city famous for its Marian apparitions in the mid-19th century.

Bernadette Soubirous was a young girl from Lourdes who was collecting firewood when she claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary back in 1858. Throughout the next few months, she had nearly 20 visions, most of which told Soubirous where a church should be built. She was just 14 years old at the time.

About 55 years after her death, the French woman was made into a saint, and her former place of residence now serves as a tourist attraction in which visitors can see where the apparitions supposedly occurred. Following a tour here, travelers should make their way to the Grotto of Lourdes - the chapel built upon the land that St. Bernadette pointed out.

Another area to check out is the Sanctuary of Lourdes, home to a grotto that holds holy spring water, which is said to have various healing properties. Many people in Europe make a pilgrimage to this French town for this very reason. The sanctuary has seen more than 200 million visitors since its construction in 1860.