Pilgrims to fund Pope's visit to Lourdes

2nd August 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 2 (AFP) - Pope John Paul II's visit to the south western French town of Lourdes later this month is expected to cost EUR 1.5 million (USD 1.8 million) and will be funded by donations, church officials said Monday.

PARIS, Aug 2 (AFP) - Pope John Paul II's visit to the south western French town of Lourdes later this month is expected to cost EUR 1.5 million (USD 1.8 million) and will be funded by donations, church officials said Monday.

The bishop of Lourdes and the neighbouring town of Tarbes, Jacques Perrier, said the cost of the trip - the pontiff's second visit to the "miracle" town - would be entirely covered by donations from pilgrims.

"We will ask pilgrims to make an offering of EUR 10, but of course everyone can come," Perrier told a press conference, explaining that the sanctuaries in Lourdes could not handle such an expense.

The 84-year-old pope's visit to Lourdes on August 14 and 15 - expected to draw 350,000 faithful - 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.

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

Some 2,700 police will be on hand to ensure security.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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