Clean-up operation begins at Lourdes shrine after floods

Saturday 22 June 2013 07.16
1 of 6
The domain (surrounding area in the grotto complex) in Lourdes was flooded after the Gave de Pau burst its banks
The domain (surrounding area in the grotto complex) in Lourdes was flooded after the Gave de Pau burst its banks
The clean-up has begun at the grotto
The clean-up has begun at the grotto
Local officials said the site may be closed for some time to come
Local officials said the site may be closed for some time to come
Debris was washed up from the river near the cathedrals
Debris was washed up from the river near the cathedrals
The St Pius X Basilica can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers
The St Pius X Basilica can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers
Workers are trying to clear mud from the town's streets
Workers are trying to clear mud from the town's streets

The clean-up operation has begun at the shrine in Lourdes after the river Gave de Pau burst its banks last Tuesday.

The flooding caused extensive damage in the town, with French media saying that repair work could see the site closed for large parts of the busy summer season.

Three people are said to have died in the floods in the region.

About six million pilgrims visit Lourdes annually, many to bathe in the grotto's normally tranquil spring waters and pray for healing at its altar.

The altar at the grotto had recently been restored after it was damaged by flash floods in October last year.

Water flooded through the entrance of the town's largest church, St Pius X basilica, leaving pews and other debris floating in the nave.

The St Pius X basilica can accommodate 20-25,000 worshippers.

Locals said they were shocked to discover the extent of the damage in the church, most of which is underground.

The famous shrine is where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a local woman St Bernadette in 1858.

Keywords: lourdes, floods
User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use