Lourdes : Body And Spirit in the Secular Age

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Lourdes was at the very centre of nineteenth century debates on religion, science and medicine. Both the Church and secularists championed the 'miracle' town as crucial in shaping how society should think about the mind, body and spirit. Since the `visions' of Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 transformed the quiet Pyrenean town into an international tourist and pilgrimage destination, it has been a site for controversy. In her well-crafted and carefully researched book, Harris deftly places Lourdes and its attendant spiritual movement firmly at the centre of French history and shows its significance in the country's development.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 496 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 24mm | 340.19g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0141038489
  • 9780141038483
  • 378,900

Back cover copy

A magisterial history of the world's greatest Catholic healing shrine and the remarkable devotion it inspiresIn 1858, near the tiny French town of Lourdes, a young peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous witnessed the Virgin Mary in a grotto. Since then, every year millions of pilgrims from all over the world have traveled there to take part in the procession to a shrine whose waters have made it a synonym for healing. Historian Ruth Harris traces this shrine's incredible development, placing Lourdes at the center of nineteenth-century debates on religion, science, and medicine -- debates that continue today. She examines the pivotal role of women and children as visionaries, devotees, and advocates, and addresses issues of mysticism and nonorthodox faith that speak to our own era of spirituality. Above all, she explores how, at a moment in French history when the Catholic Church was under attack, this place of pilgrimage improbably prospered.
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Review quote

"A remarkable book. . . beautifully written . . . Harris never forgets the human dimension to this complex story". -- Chicago Tribune
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About Ruth Harris

Ruth Harris is Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at New College, Oxford.
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Rating details

71 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 31% (22)
4 25% (18)
3 37% (26)
2 3% (2)
1 4% (3)
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