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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 65 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LOURDES, a town of south-western France in the department of Hautes-Pyrenees, at the foot of the Pyrenees, 12 m. S.S.W. of Tarbes on the main line of the Southern railway between that town and Pau. Pop. (1906) 7228. Lourdes is divided into an old and a new town by the Gave de Pau, which at this point leaves the valley of Argeles and turns abruptly to the west. The old quarter on the right bank surrounds on three sides a scarped rock, on which stands the fortress now used as a prison. Its large square keep of the 14th century is the chief survival of feudal times. Little is left of the old fortifications except a tower of the 13th or 14th century, surmounting a gateway known as the Tour de Garnabie. The old quarter is united with the new town by a bridge which is continued in an esplanade leading to the basilica, the church of the Rosary and the Grotto, with its spring of healing water. The present fame of Lourdes is entirely associated with this grotto, where the Virgin Mary is believed are the lighthouse, barracks and the private residences of the wealthy citizens. At its mouth the English river is about 2 M. across. Lourenco Marques is the nearest seaport to the Rand gold mines. The port is 8374 M. from Southampton via Cape Town and 7565 M. via the Suez canal. It is served by British, Portuguese and German liners, the majority of the goods imported being shipped at Southampton, Lisbon or Hamburg. Over 50% of the import trade of Johannesburg is with Lourenco Marques. Great Britain and British possessions take some 40 % of the import trade, Portugal, Germany, Norway, Sweden and America coming next in order. Most of the imports, being forwarded to the Transvaal, figure also as exports. The chief articles of import are food-stuffs and liquors, iron, mineral oils, inks and dyes, timber and live stock. These all form part of the transit trade. There is practically no export trade by sea save in coal, which is brought chiefly from the collieries at Middelburg in the Transvaal. At Port Matolla, 20 M. from the town, on the river of that name, one of the feeders of the English river, is a flourishing timber trade. The average value of the total trade of Louren90 Marques for the five years 1897–1899 and 1902–1903 (1900 and 1901 being years during which trade was disorganized by the Anglo-Boer War) was over £3,500,000. In 1905 the value of the trade of the port was £5,682,000; of this total the transit trade was worth over £4,500,000 and the imports for local consumption £1,042,000.- The retail trade, and trade with the natives, is almost entirely in the hands of Indians. The chief import for local consumption is cheap wine from Portugal, bought by the Kaffirs to the extent of over 500,000 yearly. These natives form the bulk of the Africans who work in the Rand gold mines. Lourenco Marques is named after a Portuguese navigator, who with a companion (Antonio Calderia) was sent in 1544 by the governor of Mozambique on a voyage of exploration. They explored the lower courses of the rivers emptying their waters into Delagoa Bay, notably the Espirito Santo. The various forts and trading stations which the Portuguese established, abandoned and reoccupied on the north bank of the river were all called Lourenco Marques. The existing town dates from about 185o, the previous settlement having been entirely destroyed by the natives. In 1871 the town was described as a poor place, with narrow streets, fairly good flat-roofed houses, grass huts, decayed forts and rusty cannon, enclosed by a wall 6 ft. high then recently erected and protected by bastions at intervals. The growing importance of the Transvaal led, how-ever, to greater interest being taken in Portugal in the port. A commission was sent by the Portuguese government in 1876 to drain the marshy land near the settlement, to plant the blue gum tree, and to build a hospital and a church. It was not, however, until the end of the 19th century that any marked development took place in the town, and up to 1903 cargo had to be discharged in tugs and lighters. In 1873–1877 Mr Burgers, president of the Transvaal, endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to get a railway built from Pretoria to Delagoa Bay. In 1878–1879 a survey was taken for a line from Lourenco Marques to the Transvaal, and in 1883 the Lisbon cabinet granted to Colonel Edward McMurdo, an American citizen, a concession—which took the place of others which had lapsed—for the building of a railway from Lourenco Marques to the Transvaal frontier, the Boer government having agreed (1883) to continue the line to Pretoria. Under this concession Colonel McMurdo formed in London in 1887 a company—the Delagoa Bay and East African Railway Company—to construct the line. Meantime a secret agreement had been come to between President Kruger and Portugal for the concession to the Transvaal of a "steam tramway" parallel to the projected railway, should the company not complete the line in the time specified. The company, however, built the line to the frontier shown on the Portuguese maps of 1883 within the time limit, the railway being opened on the 14th of December 1888. The frontier by this date had been fixed at Komati Poort, 5 M. farther from the coast. Portugal had previously agreed to grant the company " a reasonable extension of time " to complete in the Roman Catholic world to have revealed herself repeatedly to a peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous in x858. A statue of the Virgin stands on a rock projecting above the grotto, the walls of which are covered with crutches and other votive offerings; the spot, which is resorted to by multitudes of pilgrims from all quarters of the world, is marked by a basilica built above the grotto and consecrated in 1876. In addition the church of the Rosary, a rich- building in the Byzantine style, was erected in front of and below the basilica from 1884 to 1889. Not far from the grotto are several other caves, where prehistoric remains have been found. The Hospice de Notre-Dame de Douleurs is the chief of the many establishments provided for the accommodation of pilgrims. Lourdes is a fortified place of the second class; and is the seat of the tribunal of first instance of the arrondissement of Argeles. There are marble and slate quarries near the town. The pastures of the neighbourhood support a breed of Aquitaine cattle, which is most highly valued in south-western France. The origin of Lourdes is uncertain. From the 9th century onwards it was the most important place in Bigorre, largely owing to the fortress which is intimately connected with its history: In 136o it passed by the treaty of Bretigny from French to English hands, and its governor was murdered by Gaston Phoebus viscount of Beam, for refusing to surrender it to the count of Anjou. Nevertheless the fortress did not fall into the possession of the French till 1406 after a blockade of eighteen months. Again during the wars of religion the castle held out successfully after the town had been occupied by the troops of the Protestant captain Gabriel, count of Montgomery. From the reign of Louis XIV. to the beginning of the 19th century the castle was used as a state prison. Since the visions of Bernadette Soubirous, their authentication by a commission of enquiry appointed by the bishop of Tarbes, and the authorization by the .pope of the cult of Our Lady of Lourdes, the quarter on the left bank of the Gave has sprung up and it is estimated that 600,000 pilgrims annually visit the town. The chief of the pilgrimages, known as the national pilgrimage, takes place in August. Several religious communities have been named after Our Lady of Lourdes. Of these one, consisting of sisters of the third order of St Francis, called the Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes (founded 1877), has its headquarters in Rochester, Minnesota. Another, the Order of Our Lady of Lourdes, was founded in 1883 for work in the archdiocese of New Orleans. See G. Mares, Lourdes et ses environs (Bordeaux, 1894); Fourcade, L'Apparition de la grotte de Lourdes (Paris, 1862) and L'Apparition consideree au point de vue de l'art chretien (Bordeaux, 1862); Boissarie, Lourdes, histoire medicale (Paris, 1891); Bertrin, Hist. critique des evenements de Lourdes (2nd ed., Paris, 1905), written under authority of the bishop of Tarbes; H. Lasserre, Miraculous Episodes of Lourdes (London, 1884, tr.); R. F. Clarke, Lourdes and its Miracles (ib., 1889) and Medical Testimony to the Miracles (ib., 1892) ; D. Barbe, Lourdes hier, aujourd'hui, demain (Paris, 1893; Eng. trans. by A. Meynell, London, 1894); J. R. Gasquet, The Cures at Lourdes (London, 1895); Les Pelerinages de Lourdes. Cantiques, insignes, costumes (Lourdes, 1897) ; W. Leschner, The Origin of Lourdes (London, 1900). Zola's Lourdes (Paris, 1894), a criticism from the sceptical point of view, in the form of a realistic novel, has called forth many replies from the Catholic side.
End of Article: LOURDES

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