Readers React: Lourdes: Go for the scenery, not the dubious ‘medical miracles’

Lourdes, France, has fewer than than 15,000 residents but draws millions of religious pilgrims every year.
(Chris O’Brien / For The Times)

To the editor: While the Lourdes musical may be a good marketing ploy to draw more visitors to its religious shrine, visitors who expect to be cured of cancer or other ailments on pilgrimages to the French town might as well stay home.

The article mentions that the Catholic Church says that Lourdes has been the source of 70 “medical miracles” in the 160 years since 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous’ visions. With more than 200 million visitors over that time, even that’s only a 1-in-3-million chance for a “medical miracle.” Spontaneous cancer remissions happen more often.

“Available scientific evidence does not support claims that faith healing can actually cure physical ailments,” states the American Cancer Society.

Visit Lourdes for its landscape and history, but skip its myth-making musical and the false hope for a “medical miracle.”


Bob Ladendorf, Los Angeles


To the editor: Your picture of Lourdes in the French Pyrenees countryside reminded me of how this region addresses increasing population.

This area has chosen to build multi-story apartments in very dense towns to preserve their agricultural and natural areas. This has the added benefits of making their mass transit systems very efficient, and also encourages people to get out of their small apartments at night to interact with their neighbors at the many local bars and cafes.


At some point our increasing population will force us into this solution, but wouldn’t it be better to plan for it now and get those benefits rather than wait until all of our rural areas have been developed?

Mark Bandurraga, Santa Barbara

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