Modern Churches – The Underground Basilica of St. Pius X, Lourdes, France


The Basilica of St. Pius X, Lourdes, France
The Basilica of St. Pius X, Lourdes, France

Contemporary ChurchesThe Basilica of  St. Pius X

Lourdes is one of the most visited places in Catholic Christendom. It was at Lourdes where the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant girl, Bernadette Soubourious, in the mid-19th century. After authentication of these appearances, Lourdes became a place of Catholic Pilgrimage and healing. The Basilica of St. Pius X, known as the Underground Basilica, is a large Roman Catholic Church and Minor Basilica, located in the town of Lourdes, France. It is part of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. Architect Pierre Vago designed the underground Basilica; it spreads out underground between St. Michael’s Gate and the Crowned Statue. It is in the form of an upturned ship, and surrounded by a walkway.

The Basilica of St. Pius X, Lourdes
The Basilica of St. Pius X, Lourdes

Angelo Cardinal Roncalli consecrated The Basilica of St. Pius X on 25th of March 1958. The Underground Basilica of St. Pius X was built to hold the thousands who come for larger celebrations and feast days. There is almost no natural light inside; the concrete of its construction has been left bare making it uninteresting for the tourists.  Although the ornamentation of the Basilica is dry, it is enhanced with the addition of 39 images of saints and martyrs from all over the world.

St. Pius X Underground Basilica
St. Pius X Underground Basilica

The walls are decorated with Stations of the Cross, a depiction of the Rosary, and a depiction of the Apparitions, making a total of 52 images, all in the local Gemmail style of overlapping stained glass. A short biography of each saint is placed on the pillar next to the image. Oval nave of The Underground Basilica of St. Pius X covers an area of 12,000 m² (191m long and 61m wide) having seating capacity of 25,000.

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