BIARRITZ, FRANCE

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The beautiful seaside  city of Biarritz is located on the Bay of Biscay   in southwestern France. The border town of France with Spain is  very  popular with tourists and surfers.

with new found friends
 
The town boosts off an impressive natural beauty, a landscaped mountain on the Atlantic coast.
 
 
 
Architectural building  masterpieces are scattered all over the town. They were important structures and part of the town's history.
 
 
 
 
The Museum of the Sea, which has 24 aquariums containing sharks and seals
St-Martin's Church, constructed in the 12th century, and restored in the middle of the 16th century
Undeniably the most concentrated part of the town in terms of tourists is the waterfront. Almost all kinds of tourists are here, surfers, beach bums, or just plain visitors on sightseeing and picnics.
 
For other tourists who want to try their luck, the are   two huge casinos namely the Barriere and the Bellevue just steps away from the beach side.(pic 796)
What really caught my interest in this town are the cliffs and lookouts on the beach. The cliffs  were  so amazingly sculptured by mother nature  are and the lookouts are strategically landscaped. See the pictures below.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 There is also an easy way to go around the town by riding the  tourist train. It has  several stops just like the usual hop on-hop off tourist bus.






TRAILING THE WAY OF THE CROSS

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On the hillside of the Sanctuary of Lourdes is the Way of the Cross. The life sized(or larger) statues, built on a cast iron.
 
 
 
 
 Each of the fifteen(15) stations were all scattered on a weave -like on the hill. It starts on an  ascending pattern from one station to another and desends on the last  few stations. 
the zigzag uphill road
 Due to large numbers of groups of pilgrims, expect to wait for them to finish their prayers before you can continue. SOme would even combine their group to another pilgrim's group to avoid long wait.
 
 
 
 
 
 The descend is a steep- not-so-rough road that one of my companions had her shoes removed. It was also raining at that time which made it even more difficult and slippery. It was a tough climb but it was also a one of kind  spiritual experience.
 
 




THE SANCTUARY OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES

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The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes or commonly known as  the Domain is the  ground surrounding the Catholic shrine (Grotto) to Our Lady of Lourdes in the town of Lourdes, France. It is owned and administered by the Roman Catholic Church.It is a well known destination for pilgrims especially the sick pilgrims because of its reputed miraculous healing water.
 
The story of the Shrine begun on February 11, 1858. A  14-year old peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous claimed to have experienced a series of apparitions of a lady dressed in white and with a blue belt around her waist, who eventually introduced herself as the Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Mary.
At the time of the apparitions, the ground was known to be unpleasant and its  on the outskirt of the  town. It was used by the villagers  for pasturing animals, collecting firewood and as a garbage dump.
It is said that the figure always appeared only in one place,  in which a wild rose bush was growing. 'The Virgin' instructed Bernadette to "Go and drink from the spring", "Go and tell the priests to build a chapel here", and "Have the people come here in procession". Thus , 3 years after the apparition in 1861,Abbé Dominique Peyramale ,a local priest, together with his bishop, Monsignor Bertrand-Sévère Mascarou Laurence bought  the land and build the first church known today as the Crypt. They commissioned French sculptor Joseph Hugues Fabisch to create a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes based on Bernadette's descriptions. The statue is is in the niche where She appeared.
Apparitions and miracle stories made the place famous to pilgrims worldwide.The  Lourdes water said to be a miraculous  healing water  flows from a spring at the same spot where it was discovered by Bernadette.
the fountains of the miraculous water located at the side of the cathedral
 Pilgrims especially the sick came here to bathe at the Baths or Piscines.There are 67 recognized miracle healings, The last was the cure of Anna Santaniello in 1952, recognised on 9 November 2005. 
 
 The Grotto of Massabielle is where st. Bernadette's visions took place. It is very simple and undecorated.Its main feature is the niche where the apparitions took place and where the statue stands. Next to the altar is the large stand of candles. The candles are kept burning during the season.
 
 AT the rear of the Grotto is the famous and original spring. It  can be seen within the Grotto but It is protectively covered by a glass. Pilgrims are allowed to touch the rock walls beneath the grotto.
 The main Basilica of the Domain comprises of three levels.

1. The Crypt is the first to be constructed. This small crypt has small nave but with  big pillars to support the Upper Basilica built on top of it. The marble plaques known as Ex voto along the corridor with the Statue of St. Peter holding the keys to heaven   serves as the entrance. 
 
 2. The Upper Basilica known as The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was the second church built in the Domain. The Gothic Styled basilica has its sanctuary built directly above the Grotto.
 3. The Rosary Basilica is the third of the churches to be completed in 1899. This church  in Byzantine design have open and circular nave with exterior dome. The dome is adorned with crown and cross. 
 
 The Basilica's facade shows  a  depiction of the Luminous  On its both sides are two ramps which leads to the entrances of the Crypt and Upper Basilica.
 
 Just in front is  the Rosary Basilica is the open space  known as Rosary Square, where the  famous statue  of the Crowned Virgin, often known as the "Crowned Statue"  located. The statue which faces the  Basilica's entrance is cast on bronze and  2.5meters high. It is said the the her rosary is of birgittine style with six decades.
 Behind the statue is the Esplanade,it is used for processions.Every night a Torchlight Procession is held in the Domain around the Rosary Square participated by pilgrims around the world.It begins with a concelebrated mass followed by the  procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Blessing of the sick at the latter end. Prayers (of the Holy Rosary) are in several languages. The finale is the Blessing and  exchange of the Sign of peace among pilgrims.
candle torchlight procession under the rain
  Within the Domain are other chapels:
1.The Underground Basilica 0r the Basilica of St. Pius X is the largest church in the Domain. It can accommodate very big numbers of visitors


 2. Church of St. Bernadette is on the opposite of the Grotto across the Gave. It was built on the spot where Bernadette stood during the final (18th) Apparition.  

3. The Chapel of Reconciliation is built for only one purpose, exclusively for Sacrament of Reconciliation. A priest is always  available es.for any time of the day for confession in different language. It is located near the Crowned Statue.

 4 . The St. Joseph chapel is Near the St. Michael's gate at the far end  of the Esplanade. It can accommodate 450 worshippers and 80 wheelchairs.

5.Accueil Notre Dame is just  cross the river from the grotto and the churches. It is a modern facility built in 1996 to house sick pilgrims during their time in Lourdes.
 
 A little further from the Grotto are the Brulieres. It is where the pilgrims burn candles as their devotional offers. This candle stand holds different sizes of candles, the largest is about two meters tall. sizes. It is said that 800 tonnes of wax candles is burnt annually.
 
 On the mountainous side of the Domain are the life size (or perhaps bigger) station of the cross.