In the south west of France, close to the Pyrenees Mountains, there is a little town called Lourdes. It is situated in the département called Hautes-Pyrénées which belongs to the région called Occitanie.
There is a castle, and a river called le Gave de Pau that runs through the town.
Millions of Christian pilgrims from all over the world visit this place every year. Second to Paris, it is the most visited French town.
Why do so many people visit this town? Inside a cave in Lourdes, there is a very special spring of water, discovered in 1858 by a young girl called Marie-Bernarde Soubirous. The cave is called the Grotto of Massabielle.
The young girl who discovered the spring is nowadays better known by the name Saint Bernadette.
The young girl had a series of visions at the entrance to the grotto. In the visions she saw Mary, the Mother of Jesus. On one occasion, Mary told her to dig in a certain place inside the cave. After digging with her hands, the spring of water began to flow.
At that time, the grotto was a very dirty and muddy place nicknamed 'the pig-sty' because pigs used to shelter there.
It is believed that the water of the grotto is very special and that it has miraculous healing powers.
It is said that many sick people have been cured by touching or drinking the water. Every day, sick people visit this place in the hope that the holy water will cure them. They collect it in bottles to take home.
In 2018, the seventieth officially recognised miracle was announced. It was the miraculous healing of a French nun called Bernadette Moriau who had visited Lourdes in 2008. She had been unable to walk for many years and was suffering from terrible pain. However, a few days after visiting the cave and the special spring of water, she no longer felt any pain and decided to remove the brace on her leg. She straightened her twisted foot which had prevented her from walking and then she discovered that she was able to walk normally!
There is no medical explanation for her recovery.