Pope Francis has named a special delegate for the pastoral care of pilgrims to the French shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, announced at the shrine on 6th June 6 that the pope had appointed Auxiliary Bishop Antoine Herouard of Lille, France, to the post.
An explanatory note published by Vatican News said Pope Francis had sent Archbishop Fisichella as his ‘special envoy’ to study the pastoral situation at the shrine, which welcomes more than 3 million pilgrims a year.
Promoting spiritual and pastoral outreach at shrines around the world is one of the responsibilities of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.
According to the French newspaper, Le Figaro, the shrine has an annual budget of close to £27 million. It relies heavily on volunteers to care for the hundreds of thousands of sick people who arrive each year seeking healing in baths filled with water from a spring near the grotto where St Bernadette Soubirous said Mary appeared to her in 1858.
Picture: The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes is pictured in southwestern France in this 16th May 2014, file photo. Pope Francis has appointed a special delegate for the pastoral care of pilgrims at the Lourdes shrine. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).