Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:

Lourdes (2019), a documentary directed by Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai, centers on the small town in southern France where the Virgin Mary appeared to teenager Bernadette Soubiros 160 years ago.

Today over three million people visit Lourdes each year, including 100,000 volunteers and 80,000 malades: the ill and/or  disabled.

The film could have gone two ways. The first would have been to veer saccharine, pious, sentimental. The other—keep in mind that the film-makers’ previous film was about a male porn star—would have been cynical and sneering: Look at these poor deluded souls, actually believing in God.

But the documentary goes in a different direction entirely.

The opening shot is of various hands—some work-worn, some beringed, some wrapped with rosaries–stroking, touching, caressing, the walls and ceiling of the grotto. 

“When you are at Lourdes,” the message runs, “you can show yourself as you are, in all your grandeur and all your weakness.”



  1. Kathleen Wikman says: Reply

    Looks like it is available to stream, but it’s in French with subtitles. Not good for my husband who doesn’t read fast enough or for my non French speaking blind friend…. darn.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      As I said, Kathleen, they’re hoping to have the film available in video on demand and DVD in August, so keep your eyes peeled. It’s really quite special. Here’s the website.

      1. Kathleen Wikman says: Reply

        I’m still confused…. (not an unusual condition). Won’t the DVD also be in French with subtitles?

        1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

          No, Kathy, I’m saying they hope to have VOD and DVD IN ENGLISH AVAILABLE IN THE UNITED STATES FOR ALL OF US TO WATCH!!! It has been screened all over the US at selected theaters if you look at the website. I watched it in English.

  2. Stephen Sparrow says: Reply

    “Did Mary really appear to Bernadette all those years ago? Does it really matter?”
    Actually Heather it does matter otherwise we’re all victims of a hoax and the same question also applies to that “empty tomb” you mentioned

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      You missed my point, Stephen, which is that we members of the faithful believe and hope whether or not an actual “miracle,” in the sense of a vision or a spontaneous heaeling occurs. The empty tomb was the uber miracle that allows us to proceed with the conviction that the Resurrection occurred, with or without further signs. The thousands of people holding their voices aloft and lifting their voices to Mary is, again, a sign of such incredible hope, faith and love, in spite of ongoing suffering, in spite of the fact that the vast majority, if not all, of the ill pilgrimas are going to go home without being healed in a medical sense…I find that staggeringly moving. I’m sorry you missed the whole spirit of my piece and I urge you to see the film if and when you can–

  3. No I didn’t miss your point Heather – I think we’re just talking past each other. I’ve visited Lourdes. See this link. http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2006/ssparrow_lourdes_jan06.asp

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      How wonderful!

  4. Monique Rivett-Carnac says: Reply

    Great site to visit, thank you Heather. It is well known that Lourdes has had many undocumented healings. Not necessary approved miracles, but when you are afflicted with inner trauma, emotional wounds, depressions, something has simple as constant headaches, lower back pain ext ext. These are some healings that do occur in Lourdes. When a person is afflicted with the harassement of a constant headaches
    and is healed at Lourdes that is a miracle for that person.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Of course! Thanks so much, Monique–

  5. Oh wow! I thought you were talking about this one, Lourdes (2009): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1405809/
    I liked it but I could have very easily misunderstood it.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      No, this one was made in 2019, released in Europe, and is now looking for an audience in the U.S…Here’s a wonderful review from America: The Jesuit Review.

  6. Michael Demers says: Reply

    Thanks, Heather!