Grotto of Massabielle

Big Rock - Lourdes Grotto

Useful Information

Location: Lourdes
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave. Abri.
Light: n/a
Guided tours:  
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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11-FEB-1858 Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous.
25-MAR-1858 Virgin Mary identified herself "Que soy era Immaculada Conceptiou".
16-JUL-1858 Virgin Mary appeared the last time.


The world famous pilgrimage destination Lourdes is a natural karst cave. It is called a grotto which means it is not a deep cave, little more than an overhangig rock or shelter. At this place, Virgin Mary appeared to the young peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous. She appeared 18 times from 11-FEB-1858 to 16-JUL-1858. After this appearances, the small cave became a pilgrimage destination, and today more than five million people visit the cave every year.

On the 25-MAR-1858 Virgin Mary identified herself to Bernadette saying "Que soy era Immaculada Conceptiou" (I am the Immaculate Conception). After this appearance, Bernadette started to dig at the place of the appearance, and discovered a spring. It is located at the end of the grotto, to the left of the altar, but it is not visible any more. The water is considered to be sacred and have healing powers. People come to Lourdes to drink this water and bring some home with them. The water is canalized into public wells, where the visitors can drink. And there are hollow figurines of Virgin Mary sold, which are filled with the water, a tradition which is probably a hundred years old.