French bishops said today that Pope Benedict will visit Paris and the Roman Catholic shrine of Lourdes in September.
The pontiff’s trip to France between September 12 and 15 is timed 150 years after an illiterate peasant girl, St Bernadette, said she had visions of the Virgin Mary in the south-western town of Lourdes.
The French conference of bishops said that the pope will lead an evening vespers’ service at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris before travelling to Lourdes.
Roman Catholic tradition holds that Lourdes is the site where the Virgin Mary appeared before 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.
Thousands of people who have since prayed and bathed at a spring at the site said they have been healed.