Welcome to the Accueil Notre-Dame in the heart of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes
The sick are very welcome in the Sanctuary. Since the last century, accommodation centres have been built for them. Inaugurated on 20 September 1997, the Accueil Notre-Dame is a six-floor building, divided into two wings (East, on the Hospitalet side, and West, on the Carmel side), five of which are occupied by the sick.
Designed in the form of “open arms” in the image of the Basilica of the Rosary, the Accueil Notre-Dame reminds us that, in Lourdes, everyone is expected as a person.
The sick or disabled often make a considerable human effort to go to Lourdes, as well as a financial effort. At the Accueil Notre-Dame, the mission of the staff and volunteers is to be sure that the fragile pilgrims will not be disappointed. This is why they work hard to make them feel good, but also to ensure that they benefit from maximum comfort and safety. They are part of an immense chain of solidarity to make sure that everyone, and especially the most vulnerable, can be hosted in Lourdes. The Accueil mostly hosts pilgrims coming in groups.
All the rooms are medically equipped and each bed has a nurse call button. The showers and toilets have been specially designed for disabled people and each floor has a medical room. Pilgrimages or groups are always accompanied by doctors and nurses. On each floor there are some rooms reserved for pilgrimage doctors and chaplains. The Accueil Notre-Dame is classified as a “U-type 1st category” building, which makes it almost a hospital, hence the respect of very precise health and safety standards.
The employees of the Accueil know that they work in a company of a particular kind with an additional soul. They all work hard for people, sometimes tirelessly. The purpose of this house is to welcome pilgrims who feel this solicitude at all times. Small gifts, a few words, a hand gesture or just a little smile are their way of thanking the employees and volunteers.
The Accueil Notre-Dame, a special place
“You are life’s little heroes”, Pope Francis said to critically ill children. He added: “Time spent with the sick is holy time”. The history of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes has always been linked to the presence of sick or disabled people. Wasn’t Bernadette Soubirous the first of them? Since the 1870s, with the birth of the big pilgrimages, pilgrims with reduced mobility have taken part in the celebrations of Lourdes. They have always been honoured, placed in the front rows. In 1877, the Sanctuary built the Asile Notre-Dame on the left bank of the River Gave. Some years later, it was decided to modernise the accommodation structure: the Accueil Notre-Dame was built on the right bank of the River Gave.
Pilgrims who are too tired to go out can take part in a procession from their room or from the terrace, or simply turn to the Grotto to pray. Meals in the dining rooms are an opportunity for conversation.
Did you know… ?
The materials used to build the Accueil are commensurate with the genius of those who imagined it. This is the case for the glass surfaces: more than 3,300 square metres, distributed mainly on the East, South and West façades. This is a particularly efficient double thermal glazing that blocks nearly 50% of the solar flux and thus improves the pilgrims’ comfort. The roof cover of the Accueil is made from a beautiful slate of the Pyrenees extracted from a quarry located 5 km from Lourdes: a thick, dense, noble and very resistant slate, which enhances the architectural quality of the building while at the same time being an opportunity for local development. The Accueil is also part of a social and solidarity-based economy.