The 150th National Pilgrimage is underway at Lourdes in southwest France, where hundreds of pilgrims are coming together for a five-day event.
Lourdes, which is found in the Pyrenees, has been famous since 1858 when a 14 year old peasant girl, named Bernadette Soubirous, claimed she had seen visions of the Virgin Mary telling her to dig in the ground. A shrine was later built on the site after water from the spring that was discovered was said to have healing powers. Sixty-nine healings involving the water of Lourdes have been officially declared as miracles by the Catholic church so far. The latest, in May 1989, was approved by the Church in 2013.
Lourdes is the most visited Christian pilgrimage site in the world, with the town reportedly welcoming up to 5 million visitors a year.
Young and old, in all states of health, are going there for the Jubilee event being held from 11th-16th August to coincide with when the Catholic church celebrates the Virgin Mary's assumption into heaven.
National Pilgrimage Director, Father Vincent Cabanac, encouraged those attending to form "a living community of believers", declaring in a statement:
"In Lourdes, everything is possible and everything makes sense!
"Since 1858, pilgrims have come there in large numbers, forming a continuous stream, like the water that flows constantly from the hollow of the cave of Massabielle. This rock is symbolic of the spiritual experience that can affect all of us, even those furthest from the faith.
"Whether we come alone or accompanied, together we pray and make up a community of believers: the Church - built by our prayer, by our service, by our attention to the most deprived.
"Our Jubilee for the 150th National Pilgrimage will be a unique moment of celebration.
"Come with us to this sanctuary to build the Church on the rock that is Christ.
"All together, we will share this joy!"