Miracle in the Mountains

"I call right away the ambulance, of course, when he get sick and he is mad on me because he [wanted to be] dead," she said. Annie's husband started beating her. She's his caregiver. So VGZ brought her to Lourdes. After three emotional days in Lourdes Annie said, "I think I feel more strength for to go on with my life."

"That happens to thousands of people when they come," Father Moran said. "And it's not a cynical way of saying, 'Well, you weren't cured but you got something else.' It's helping people to live with what they're living with."

Father Moran shepherds the English-speaking pilgrims who come to Lourdes. This year 10 million pilgrims from 170 countries are expected to visit the picturesque spot to pray and mark the 150th anniversary of the apparitions.

But has Lourdes become a commercial tourist attraction? Downtown there are more than 300 hotels, countless gift shops with glowing neon lights and stacks of Virgin Marys, as well as bustling cafes and bars.

"People have to get fed. It's not angels that are coming here," Father Moran said. "Human beings that need to be fed, they want to have a drink, they want to have a coffee, to celebrate, have a beer, glass of wine, or whatever."

Camaraderie and a feeling of being taken care of is part of what VGZ's clients want and get from this. Although it isn't entirely altruistic. The pilgrimages do generate good publicity. It looks like good business.

"Most of the people go back better than they came here, so nothing wrong with that," Hans van den Heuvel told me the morning after he took part in a candle-lit procession to the basilica. "On the contrary, I think that's perfect."

And Hans raises an interesting point: If pilgrims really do feel better after visiting the grotto, then as he says, "The insurance company will have to pay less for a short while, but maybe they live longer and then they have to pay more."

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5234241. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5234241. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5234241. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5234241.
Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston stopped a would be smuggler from bringing nearly 7 ounces of cocaine into the country in tamales, Aug. 22, 2014.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Real Housewife Phaedra Parks Lists Home in Suburban Atlanta
Real Housewives of Atlanta star, Phaedra Parks, has listed her 4,000-square-foot home with 5 bedrooms and 6 baths for $340,900.
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine.
(Courtesy George W. Bush Presidential Center/AP)