Lourdes on alert for Pope’s visit

28th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

TARBES, France, July 28 (AFP) - Some 2,700 French police will be mobilised next month for Pope John Paul II's visit to the southern "miracle" town of Lourdes, expected to draw at least 300,000 faithful, officials said Wednesday.

TARBES, France, July 28 (AFP) - Some 2,700 French police will be mobilised next month for Pope John Paul II's visit to the southern "miracle" town of Lourdes, expected to draw at least 300,000 faithful, officials said Wednesday.

Police and gendarmes will be tasked with providing security in the area and keeping traffic moving in the region, said Michel Bilaud, prefect for the Hautes-Pyrenees region.

The 84-year-old pontiff's visit to Lourdes on August 14 and 15 will mark the 150th anniversary of the 1854 proclamation by Pope Pius IX of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Four years later in Lourdes, 14-year-old peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous said she saw apparitions of the Virgin Mary at the grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes, which now draws six million pilgrims a year.

John Paul II will say Angelus Domini prayers at the grotto on August 14 following his arrival in France earlier in the day. He will later recite the rosary there and preside over the recitation of the Stations of the Cross.

On August 15 - a Sunday and the day the Virgin Mary was said to have gone to heaven - the head of the Roman Catholic Church will celebrate mass at the Church of Sainte Bernadette.

Motorists will be barred from Lourdes on both days of the pope's visit - a major holiday weekend in France where the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is celebrated - except for residents and those with special authorisation.

The trip marks the pope's 104th trip outside of Italy, his second to Lourdes and his eighth visit to France, where he last travelled in 1997.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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