Two Months After Floods Thousands Flock to Lourdes for Assumption
Two months after the church in southwestern France was damaged by floodwaters, six thousand Catholic faithful attended an Assumption mass in the Basilica of Saint Pius X in Lourdes.
The crowds were only slightly smaller than last year and a spokesman for the town's religious sites said the recovery had been faster than expected thanks to successful fund-raising campaign.
The attendees were just some of the 25,000 people who made the journey from across Europe to celebrate the Virgin Mary's ascension into heaven, in the French town known for its apparitions of the Virgin to a poor 14-year-old girl.
Scars from the flooding are still visible in closed roads, shuttered buildings and closed hotels, although these traces are only a distant evocation of the devastation of two months ago.
Pilgrims prayed at the grotto where, according to Catholic tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.
In a meadow where another mass was held, about 7,000 people, many of them in poor health, participated in the celebration of the Eucharist.
Three people were killed in the June flooding and thousands were evacuated from hotels flooded with water overflowing from the Gave de Pau river.
Six million people visit Lourdes every year, with the numbers in July and August peaking at up to 40,000 a day.