The tradition of Catholic pilgrimages in France dates back to the Middle Ages. People of faith undertook these long, arduous journeys as a way of deepening their religious devotion, seeking forgiveness for their sins, searching for physical and spiritual healing (sometimes in the form of a miracle), and for the overall experience of the journey itself. Each pilgrimage lead to a specific destination, typically a holy site at which a miracle had been performed, or a sacred spot commemorating a saint. Today, many of these pilgrimage sites are marked by an impressive cathedral or basilica. France is home to world-famous pilgrimage sites that still attract large numbers of pilgrims and tourists each year.
Our Lady of Lourdes Basilica
The site of the Marian apparitions (Mary appeared to a teenage girl, Bernadette, several times in this locations), Lourdes has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in France. The entire town functions around the millions of tourists that visit this site each year. The website above provides information to help you plan your visit to this unique spot.
St. Thérèse Basilica in Lisieux
Located in Lisieux, France, this well-known cathedral was constructed after Pope Pius XI canonised Thérèse (a young French woman known for her piety) on 17th May 1925. The massive basilica can seat up to 3,000 pilgrims. It is the second-largest pilgrimage site in France (after Lourdes).
Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Paris
Located in Paris’s Montmartre neighborhood, Sacré-Coeur is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The iconic basilica, recognized by its large white dome, was constructed in 1914. It is one of the major tourist attractions in Paris, and welcomes millions of visitors per year.
El Camino de Santiago/Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
El Camino de Santiago is a world-famous pilgrimage route featured in the 2010 film “The Way.” It begins at four starting places in France (pilgrims choose where they wish to start), and leads travelers to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. The website above provides more information about how to plan for and undertake this popular journey.
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Photo: marc dan