The Roman Catholic shrine at Lourdes struggled to return to its usual rhythm of prayers and pilgrimages on Tuesday after weekend flash floods inundated the site and caused damages of about two million euros ($2.6 million).
Small groups of pilgrims visited the hillside grotto where the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared to a peasant girl in 1858 after workers cleared away a thick carpet of mud the nearby Gave river deposited when it overflowed its banks on Saturday.
Some prayer services at Catholicism’s most popular miracle shrine have resumed, but baths in the grotto waters – which are believed to have healing powers – have been suspended until the bath halls can be cleaned of mud and their water pumps repaired.
About six million pilgrims visit the southwestern French town annually, many to pray for healing. The sanctuary’s medical bureau has rated 68 healings as scientifically inexplicable, which the Church takes to designate a miracle.