In case you don't know, Lourdes has been one of the world's most important pilgrimage sites since 1858 when 14-year old Bernadette Soubiros (1844-1879) is believed to have been visited 18 times in a rocky grotto by the Virgin Mary. The visions were later acknowledged by the Vatican and Bernadette was beatified in 1933.
As we drove toward our hotel,we noticed Lourdes' imposing castle, a stronghold here since Roman times, standing on a sheer hill just above the town.
Because people come from all over the world to pay their respects at Lourdes, there were restaurants catering to every ethnic taste, too. However, because it wasn't the busy summer season, there were almost none open and we had a tough time finding some place to eat.
In May of 1856, Bernadette's family, who was in dire straits, was forced to move to this former dungeon, Le Cachot, that had been abandoned in 1824. The family of six, including her sister, brothers and parents, lived in one room that measured just 175 square feet until mid-September of 1858.
The furniture in the room consisted of a table, a few chairs, a trunk for the linen and two beds. The Soubirous family were able to live here rent free, and even though in squalor, they were grateful and never lost their inner joy from what I read.
It's not an understatement to say it was a humble dwelling. How so many people lived in a small single room with almost no facilities is almost beyond belief. The simple abodes the Soubirous family had to live in also illustrated the many hardships the French lower classes endured in the late 19th century.
Next post: Visiting the Grotte de Massabielle and the two basilicas.
Posted on December 13th, 2018, from Coimbra, Portugal.