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Pope sends message to Lourdes pilgrims

Pope John Paul II has sent a message to pilgrims celebrating the centenary of the consecration of Our Lady of the Rosary Basilica in Lourdes, encouraging them to pray the rosary to obtain a deeper knowledge of Christ.

The French bishops' conference is in Lourdes for the celebrations, and for their annual plenary assembly which began on Sunday.

The basilica was built after the Virgin Mary's appearances to Bernadette Soubirous in early 1858 in the Massabielle grotto, in a little French village in the Pyrenees. The local bishop deemed the apparitions authentic in 1862. Lourdes became one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world.

"Living parable of stone and light, this basilica reveals to pilgrims' eyes the 15 mysteries of the life of Christ, thus revealing the profound meaning of the rosary," John Paul II wrote in his message.

"Led by the Virgin Mary, this prayer, which contemplates the redeeming Incarnation, enables us to participate in the acts of the Savior," he added. "We journey in the history of salvation with this most pure Mother and, by meditating on the mysteries of the rosary, receive the love of God, manifested sublimely in the gift of the Incarnate Word.

Lourdes Official Website