Did you know that the Basilica has a chapel that replicates the Grotto of Massabielle in France, where Bernadette Soubirous saw the Blessed Mother in 1858? For over 160 years, the faithful across the globe have looked to Our Lady of Lourdes for healing and miracles. As we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on February 11, we invite you to reflect on this Marian devotion and explore where it is honored in the Basilica with our immersive virtual tour.
History of the Tradition
According to tradition, the Blessed Mother first appeared to a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France on February 11, 1858. Since her appearance, a number of unexplained and miraculous healings from the waters at Lourdes have been recorded by the Church. The Basilica honors the Blessed Mother under this title in the Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel, which is the oldest chapel in the Basilica, as well as one of the most popular. Today, the miracles of Lourdes continue to inspire the faithful around the world.
The Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes
The Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes was gifted to the Basilica by George Logan Duval and dedicated on May 3, 1931. It was the Basilica’s first chapel to be constructed outside of the Crypt Church, and replicates the Grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes, France. Prior to its dedication, it was the “practice altar” for those who were to be ordained.
The chapel’s statue was designed by Ernest G. Pellegrini and carved by Irving & Casson, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Above the wrought iron gate is carved the phrase: “I am the Immaculate Conception,” the name by which the Virgin identified herself to Bernadette.
Limestone rondels featured on different walls of the chapel tell of parallel biblical miracles. On the right sidewall, the rondel portrays Moses striking the rock in the desert, from which water miraculously flowed (Numbers 20:11). The two rondels on the back wall illustrate Jesus healing the blind and lame at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:2-9), and Jesus restoring life to the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:21–43; Luke 8:40–56).
You can explore the chapel in immersive 360° views with our virtual tour below!
The Basilica Guidebook, Dr. Geraldine Rohling
Light a Candle at the Basilica
In honor of Our Lady of Lourdes, we invite you to light a candle today at the National Shrine. Vigil candles burn in the chapels throughout the Great Upper church and lower crypt level of the National Shrine. Each candle represents the faith of the supplicants and their fervent prayers entrusted to the loving intercession of the Blessed Mother.