The State of Virginity

The State of Virginity
I should like you to be free of all worries. The unmarried man is busy with the Lord's affairs, concerned with pleasing the Lord; but the married man is busy with this world's demands and occupied with pleasing his wife. This means he is divided. The virgin - indeed, any unmarried woman - is concerned with things of the Lord, in pursuit of holiness in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has the cares of this world to absorb her and concerned with pleasing her husband. I am going into this with you for your own good. I have no desire to place restrictions on you, but I do want to promote what is good, what will help you to devote yourselves entirely to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


The Crypt, situated between the Upper Basilica and the Rosary Basilica, stands on the Rock of Massabielle. It was the first of the churches to be completed in the domain. Construction was started by the Lourdes Parish Priest Father Peyramale. Work began on 13 September 1863 under the direction of the architect Hippolyte Durand. The blessing and the opening of the new church took place on 19 May 1866 by Mgr. Laurence, Bishop of Tarbes in the presence of Bernadette. She had delayed her departure for the convent at Nevers to witness the ceremony.

The crypt was formed by a nave and two side aisles with gothic vaulted ceilings. A notable feature being the 28 enormous pillars of grey marble which support the weight of the Upper Basilica constructed on top of it. The central altar was rebuilt in 1966. Above the altar there is a statue of the Madonna and Child which was sculpted in 1868 by Joseph-Hugues Fabisch. It is enclosed by four chapels dedicated to the Sacred Heart, Saint Peter, Saint Joseph, and Saint John the Evangelist. The shrine is in Saint Joseph's chapel and was built by goldsmiths from Lyon - Armand, Calliat, Catelant. Bernadette's fifth right rib, appropriated during the third exhumation in 1925, is house there.

Hewn out of the rock, the Crypt is surprisingly small, which helps to reinforce its stability. Until 1904 entry into the Crypt was through two underground passages. These were closed and reinforced in order to strengthen the foundation of the Upper Basilica built right above the Crypt. Nowadays, the Crypt is accessed by means of a central passage. To the right of the entrance is a large bronze statue of St. Peter holding the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Opposite stands a bronze statue of Pius X administering the Eucharist. Next to this is the statue of Bernadette depicted as the shepherdess of Bartres.

On the pediment above its entrance is a medallion of Pope Pius X, author of the decrees on frequent communion and the communion of children. In front of the Crypt is the church courtyard beneath which, at ground level , is the Rosary Basilica. From the square one can see the grotto of the apparitions, the Gave that flows right in front of it, the castle and most of the hotel area of Lourdes

In winter, the faithful come to the Crypt to adore the Blessed Sacrament. This is also possible all through the year at the Adoration Chapel next to Saint Bernadette's Church and in summer, at the Adoration Tent erected in the meadow during the day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is also known as the upper basilica because it is situated above the Rosary Basilica and the Crypt. It is in Gothic style and like the Crypt, is the work of the architect Hippolyte Durand. Construction began in 1866 and it was officially opened for worship on 15 August 1871. It was consecrated on 2 July 1876 by Cardinal Guibert, the Archbishop of Paris. This was the tangible answer to the wishes of the Madonna, "I want a chapel to be built here." For this reason it was named the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Together with the Crypt, it actually rises on the rocky mass of Massabielle, of which the grotto of the apparitions was part.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception can hold 600 worshippers. 51 metres long and 21 metres wide, it has a single nave. It rises 20 metres above the River Gave that flows past on the right. The basilica's nave is completely encircled by nineteen stained-glass windows. They illustrate scenes concerning the Immaculate Conception, from the beginning of mankind right up to the dogma's proclamation by Pope Pius IX which took place on 8 December 1854. On the upper left: the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden after committing original sin; then scenes from the Old Testament symbolising the Immaculate Conception. On the upper right: a depiction of events from the New Testament and the history of the church. The windows were designed and constructed by Laurent Gsell under the guidance of Canon Lambert of Paris.

The columns and arcades are made of stone from Angouleme. The altar of white Carrara marble is directly over the grotto of the apparitions. On the right of the presbytery is the white Carrara marble statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. Sculpted by the French sculptor, Emilien Cabuchet, it was placed in the basilica in 1876 during the ceremony of the coronation of Our Lady of Lourdes. The organ, made of Russian oak, is composed of 25 organ-stops.

The exterior is dominated by a rectangular 70 metre gothic spire which stands 100 metres above the River Gave. Above the entrance is a mosaic depicting Pope Pius X. The basilica clock plays the "Ave Maria of Lourdes" hourly.

Friday, July 9, 2010


In 1956, in order to accommodate the ever increasing number of pilgrims, a huge underground basilica, nearly the size of Saint Peter's in Rome, was built. The large basilica is entirely underground: for this reason, it is often known as the 'Underground Basilica'. Entering by the main entrance at St. Michael's Gate, the Basilica of Saint Pius X rises on the left side of the Esplanade. This is one of the largest places of worship in the world. Its six entrances facilitates the flow of pilgrims. The main entrance is on the Esplanade opposite The Chapel of St. Joseph. The structure of the interior architecture is made up of 58 small, overturned "V" shaped arches that support the ceiling backbone and the long concrete beam. The centre of the basilica is dominated by a large square altar. The 201-metre long, 81-metre wide basilica has an area of 12000 square metre and an inside perimeter of 475 metres. It can hold about 25000 people.

The Holy Sacrament is kept in the Pax Christi Chapel, also known as the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, located behind the high altar in the northern wall of the ambulatory. The altar in this chapel contains a relic of Pope Saint Pius X.

The planning and the building of the Saint Pius X Basilica was the work of a group of French architects: Pierre Vago, Andre Le Donnet and Pierre Pinsard. Its design provides maximum visibility making the best use of the space available. It oval shape has been likened to a fish or a grain of wheat, traditional symbols of the Christian Church and of Life. International mass is celebrated here on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. The closing ceremony of the Eucharistic procession and the blessing of the sick also takes place here every afternoon.

Dedicated to Pope Pius X, the Basilica of Saint Pius X was consecrated by Cardinal Angelo Roncalli on 25 March 1958, to celebrate the centenary of the apparitions. A few monts later, he became Pope, taking the name John XXIII. At the far end of the basilica, on the east side, is a third altar, where smaller congregations can gather to hear mass.

Three series of unleaded stained-glass windows, all masterpieces of colour, light the basilica which has no other decoration. The windows are based on original designs by three prize-winners of the Lourdes International Biennial Festival of Sacred Stained-Glass Art. Set along the western ramp are the 15 mysteries of the Rosary by Robert Falucci and the eastern ramp are the 15 Stations of the Cross by Denys de Solere. Completed in 1993, the third series, Bernadette's way of light, is based on sketches by Rene Margotton thus making a total of 52 images. Set around the chevet, it depicts the 18 apparitions and scenes from the saint's life.

The basilica also boasts of three other remarkable stained-glass compositions: Bernadette's Vision by Marguerite Bordet, Our Lady of Light by Tony Agostini and Peter's Boat by Meb.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


In 1875, it was decided, with the approval of Pope Pius IX, to build a new church dedicated to the rosary. The Rosary Basilica was the third of the churches to be completed after the Crypt and the upper basilica. Designed and built by the architect Leopold Hardy, it took six years to complete (between 1883 and 1889). During construction, the rocky hillside had to be excavated and concrete foundations sunk to a depth of three metres below the level of the River gave. The Church was inaugurated in 1889 and consecrated on 6 October 1901 by Mgr Langenieux, Archbishop of Reims. The Virgin Mary appeared to St Bernadette holdling a rosary in her hands. The Rosary Basilica is dedicated to this theme. Its dome bears a crown and a cross, commemorating the ceremony of the coronation of our Lady of Lourdes.

The Rosary Basilica is neo-Byzantine in style with three naves laid out in the shape of a Greek cross. 52 metres long and 48 metres wide, it can hold about 2000 people. Those who enter the basilica are welcomed by the open arms of Our Lady of Lourdes, painted on the vaulted ceiling of the choir by Edgar Maxence in 1920. Pilgrims recite the rosary guided by the mosaics in the fifteen side chapels, each of which illustrates one of the Mysteries of the Rosary. On the left: the five joyous mysteries. In the centre in the apse: the five sorrowful mysteries. On the right: the five glorious mysteries. The mosaics were completed by Gian Domenico Facchina between the years 1895 to 1907.

The mosaics were applied on the paintings of eminent European artists at the end of the 19th century, such as Melchior Doze of the Nimes school (The Annunciation and The Nativity), the Parisian artist M. Grellet (The Visitation and The Finding of Jesus in the Temple, The Crowning with Thorns, The Crucifixion, The Resurrection), Louis Fournier also from Paris (The Presentation, The Scourging), the Aragonese Felipe Maso (The Carrying of the Cross), the Nantais artist Edgar Maxence (The Descent of the Holy Spirit, The Ascension, The Coronation).

The facade is dominated by a majestic portal with a Romanesque arch of finely worked grey sandstone featuring a bas-relief (by the sculptor Maniglier, 1890) of Madonna and child offering a rosary to St. Dominic of Guzman. The windows are by Claude Lavergne.