Lourdes gets record donations for flood repairs
The Catholic pilgrimage site of Lourdes in southwestern France has received unprecedented donations to repair severe damage from flash floods in June that killed three people, officials said Tuesday.
The grotto, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a local peasant girl in 1858, is visited by six million people every year from around the world.
Thierry Castillo, who is in charge of the Lourdes diocese's economic affairs, told AFP an "unprecedented mobilisation" in response to an appeal for funds had yielded 4.3 million euros ($5.8m) by September 15.
This figure, along with the flood insurance compensation, should be enough for the 7.3-million-euro repair tab, the Sanctuaries religious body overseeing the site said.
"The worldwide mobilisation of Lourdes benefactors has exceeded our expectations," said Horacio Brito, rector of the Sanctuaries.
He said this proved that the site, whose waters the faithful believe has miraculous healing powers, "belongs to all."
Before this year's flooding, Lourdes had been inundated in 2012 when the Gave de Pau river burst its banks.
The damage was estimated at 2.5 million euros and an appeal for donations yielded 1.8 million euros.
© 2013 AFP