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

Monday, August 16, 2010


On the left bank of the Gave stands Saint Bernadette's Church, the fourth chapel, dedicated to the saint. It is a very modern and spacious building. The new 100-metre long and 80 metre-wide Church of Saint Bernadette can hold up to 5000 people and a further 350 wheelchairs. It took 17 months to build it. It is equipped with convention rooms that can accommodate from 40 to 500 people with the interior space easily divided by partitioning. To the right of the church is the Mount Carmel lecture-theatre, which can accommodate 500 people. Most of the conferences held during the pilgrimages meet here, and the Annual Conference of the Bishops of France is held here in the autumn. Perhaps its most striking feature is the ceiling area which is constructed of interlacing asymmetric iron bars beneath a roof which was designed to allow as much natural light as possible into the nave.

Designed by the French architects, Jean-Paul Felix, Cyril Despre, Jean-Paul Guinard and Dominique Yvon, the church was built on the spot where Bernadette stood during the 18th and final apparition. It was inaugurated on 25 March 1988, the 130th anniversary of the apparitions by Monsignor Donze. It was his last blessing given as Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes for, after this ceremony, Monsignor Donze handed over his duties to Monsignor Sahuquet who thus became the new Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes.

The church is built in the shape of a semicircular amphitheatre and was designed with the specific intention of creating a friendly atmosphere. The vast area around the church, known as the Meadow, is used for open air masses and special events. For the Assumption, the Mass, attended each year by eighty thousand pilgrims from all over the world, is traditionally celebrated here. Nearby is the Adoration Tent where the Holy Sacrament is presented during the summer. On 15 August 1983, Pope John Paul II himself celebrated mass here before a crowd of three hundred thousand believers.

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