Pilgrims flock to Lourdes for 150th anniversary

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As many as 50,000 pilgrims are expected to descend on Lourdes on Monday as the Roman Catholic shrine celebrates its 150th anniversary.

It was in the town in the foothills of the Pyrénées on Feb 11, 1858, that 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous claimed to see the first of 18 apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

Despite initial scepticism, she was canonised in 1933. The tourist boom which has since accompanied the town's development has been staggering.

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