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The fountains

Are we tampering with the Grotto ?

In his Orientations for the Sanctuary, published on 11 February 2014, Mgr Nicolas Brouwet, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, firmly established the course for the future of Lourdes at the pastoral level: the proclamation of the Gospel, internationalization, the creation of “a place for the Church”, a Development Department, and the development of the area of the Grotto. This last orientation is being achieved through the Project of the Grotto, the heart of Lourdes.

Since the apparitions in 1858, the successive developments of the Grotto and its surroundings reflect the life of the universal Church. At one time the Grotto was protected by grills; there were also crutches suspended by people who were healed. Ultimately, changes in this area followed the expectations of pilgrims, according to the times, while retaining its original message. The message of Lourdes consists of the actions and words exchanged between the Virgin Mary and Bernadette Soubirous. This message can be summarized thus: God is love, He loves us as we are. With the Project of the Grotto, the heart of Lourdes, the Grotto, the place from which the message emanated, will appear more in its natural state.

  • The spring

    Acces to the water of the spring

  • Grotto

    Clearing the inside of the Grotto

  • Baths

    Construction of primitive baths

  • The Gave

    The Gave is moved back by 50m.

  • Grill

    Removal of the grill from the Grotto

  • Baths

    Construction of the present baths

  • The spring

    The spring is made visible

  • The flow

    Reversal of the direction of the flow of pilgrims through the Grotto

  • Webcam

    Installation of the first webcam

  • Crutches

    Removal of the ex-voto crutches

  • Altar

    Installation of the new altar

  • Project

    Grotto, the heart of Lourdes (Phase 1)

  • Project

    Grotto, the heart of Lourdes (Phase 2)

  • 1858
  • 1859
  • 1862
  • 1923
  • 1954
  • 1955
  • 1974
  • 1994
  • 2000
  • 2002
  • 2004
  • 2015
  • 2017

The Grotto, the radiant heart of the Sanctuary.

Mgr Brouwet

"Our mission is to ensure that all those who come to Sanctuary are touched, before the Grotto, by the unconditional love of Jesus. Our preaching, our projects, our initiatives, and our work should lead to that."

Mgr Nicolas Brouwet, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes


Wooded area

"What we regretted was the successive additions to this area, and we asked ourselves just how far would this go? With the Project of the Grotto, the Heart of Lourdes, from the exit of the Rosary esplanade to the Grotto, one will pass through a wooded area. In this area, with the removal of the taps and the distributors, opportunities for distraction will be diminished and the sense of pilgrimage will be encouraged."

Mgr Brouwet

The wooded area is the new sequence of approach to the Grotto. It is a place of inner preparation, of waiting and flow management before discovering the heart of Lourdes. A succession of trees emerge from the existing earth. They create a cool shaded canopy of vegetation, a soft filtered light.

illustration du jardin des fontaines

The Grotto

"We must make the path clearer for the pilgrim or visitor. First go to the Grotto, kneel like Bernadette, pray and then perform the water gestures. The question of silence at the Grotto also arose. According to the period and the time of day, we feared that we would have difficulty in finding the necessary ambiance for meditation. The Grotto should be an oasis of silence. Silence enables us to listen to the Word of God."
Mgr Brouwet
The Grotto is spacious, open and bright.The ground, slightly inclined, enables us to differentiate the Grotto itself from the gathering place for pilgrims during the celebrations. This slight slope affirms and emphasizes the centrality of the heart of the Grotto and the spring. A hierarchy in layout of the ground, a change of furniture and lighting, make the Grotto at the same time more intimate and sacred.

The fountains

"The gesture of drinking and washing is a gesture which the Virgin Mary asked Bernadette to perform. The zone presently reserved for candles will be moved to the right bank of the Gave, as already described, to provide an area for the water fountains. Filling bottles and other containers with water from the spring is not an act of prayer: this will be done elsewhere."
Mgr Brouwet
The gesture of the water is performed at the fountains, fed by the spring water, channeled from the Grotto. They are carved from large blocks of rough granite from local quarries. They evoke the rock and spring in the Grotto.

The baths

"Nothing will be changed inside the baths. The small simple baths conform to Lourdes eternal; I mean to the atmosphere of the pilgrimage as it has always been known. Only the façade and the forecourt will be renewed in such a way as to link the baths with the fountains, with the facility to prepare the pilgrims in their approach by giving a talk or sermon."
Mgr Brouwet
The forecourt of the baths is surmounted by a large awning of naturalistic inspiration which creates a generous space where the comfort of the pilgrims is primordial whilst they wait to bathe in the water of the spring. Everything is conducive to serenity.

The candles

"Pilgrims will be invited to light and burn their candles on the right bank of the Gave. This place will be conducive to meditation and prayer. It should enable all the candles to be burned immediately."
Mgr Brouwet
Devoted to the gesture of light (lighting a candle), the area for candles is largely turned towards the Grotto. Its layout suggests the image of the Rosary with successive alcoves situated among low shrubbery. The burners are integrated in such a way as to create a path of light visible from the Grotto.

The new bridge

The Grotto bridge, extending over the Gave, can be raised in the case of flooding. The Grotto Project, the heart of Lourdes takes account of lessons learned during the flooding of October 2012 and June 2013.

Mgr Brouwet

Janine ColonelBâtiments de France

The developments and innovations will fit perfectly into the character of the site, with a contemporary touch fully respectful of the Pyrenean cultural.

Josette BourdeuMaire of Lourdes

I found the Project of the Grotto, the heart of Lourdes most appealing. I am proud to sign the work permit.

Thierry Castillo Financial Controller of the diocese of Tarbes and Lourdes

This project is the result of extensive consultation and intense reflection. Pilgrims and visitors will benefit from a spiritual experience with much greater interiority, when passing through the Grotto.

Sébastien Maysounave Director of works

We managed to build a talented and multidisciplinary working team that consists of people from different walks of life, profiles and ages. This is a real added value.

Philippe Laffaille The “pilotes” service

We welcome this project which will promote silence at the Grotto and improve the flow of pilgrims.

Olivier Lefort Financial controller of the diocese of Auch (France)

This year we received a large legacy: we offer it to you in full. This is our way of helping you in a concrete manner!

Martine Diallo Fondation OCH

This new development will be rich in symbolism and steeped in nature. Disabled people are very sensitive to this!

Bertrand Clerc-Renaud Hospitalité N-D Lourdes

With the Projet Grotte, cœur de Lourdes, we are going to build the Lourdes of the XXIst century, that which our children and grandchildren will be pleased to see.

Maryse Auboin Service of the baths

I think of all those Moms and Dads with their children who will be able to wait at the baths in a more suitably adapted area, where they can accomplish this act of faith with much more serenity.

François Labadie Accueil Notre-Dame

This expansion on the right bank of the Gave, with the candles and its area for silent prayer, gives a new dimension to the Grottoand brings St. Bernadette’s church and the Way of the Cross of the sick closer together.

Mgr Paolino Angelino OFTAL pilgrimages

These new facilities will improve the spiritual welfare of the pilgrims, I think especially of the sick. This is an exciting project for a better proclamation of the Gospel.

Fr. Olivier de Saint Martin The Rosary pilgrimage

Pilgrims will gain in terms of interiority, walking in the footsteps of Bernadette, in a coherent manner: first the Grotto, then the gesture of the water, and finally that of the light.

Gilles Marty INCA Agency

The Sanctuary officials are bold. They have a great ability to listen. They have everyone with them.

François Bouyssière Soluten Design Consultancy

We are responsible for the ground work and connecting pathways. At the Grotto, we will strive to preserve the peace while working on this place that can only inspire respect.