Lourdes, France, through the centuries

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

1844: Bernarde-Marie, called Bernadette, daughter of François and Louise Soubirous, is born at Boly Mill near Lourdes in southwestern France.

1854: Pope Pius IX proclaims that the Virgin Mary was conceived without original sin. In Lourdes, Bernadette contracts cholera, contributing to her lifelong poor health.

1858: Bernadette says she has seen the Virgin Mary on 18 occasions at a grotto near the Gave River.

1862: After questioning Bernadette, Bishop Bertrand-Severe Laurence of the diocese of Tarbes (later Tarbes and Lourdes) confirms the apparitions.

1866: Bernadette leaves home to become a sister at the Convent of St. Gildard in Nevers, a town in central France. She never returns to Lourdes.

1872: The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is completed above the grotto in Lourdes. In subsequent years, two dozen more places of worship are built within the precincts of the sanctuary, including the Rosary Basilica and the underground Basilica of St. Pius X.

1879: By now an invalid, Bernadette, called Sister Marie-Bernard, dies at age 35 in the Convent of St. Gildard.

1902: A re-creation of the Grotto of Lourdes is completed in the gardens of the Vatican.

1925: Bernadette is beatified.

1933: Bernadette is canonized at a ceremony in Rome attended by 40,000 people.

1948: Lourdes joins the age of modern travel when, for the first time, a group of pilgrims arrives by air.

1958: The Centenary of the Apparitions is celebrated.

1960: The church certifies the miraculous cures of an Italian woman and a Swiss priest.

1983: Pope John Paul II visits Lourdes.

2002: New York City firefighters who survived the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers come to Lourdes.

2008: During this jubilee year at Lourdes that marks the 150th anniversary of the apparitions, former hostage Ingrid Betancourt, recently freed from captivity in Colombia, gives thanks at the shrine. Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit Lourdes from Sept. 13 to 15.