A chance to discover the special “Nutella connection” between Italy and the Marian Shrine in Lourdes
ROME — Thinking of making a pilgrimage to Rome? Why not extend your tour to Lourdes, now that a new low-cost airline route is opening from Rome to the Marian shrine.
The Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (ORP) announced on Thursday, June 8, that it has reached an agreement with the Spanish airline, AlbaStar, to open low-cost flights from Rome-Fiumucino airport to Tarbes-Lourdes, every Monday and Thursday.
The new initiative is called ‘Lourdes for all.’
The ORP is an initiative of the Holy See, run by the vicariate of Rome. Since 1934, it has helped pilgrims in organizing their journey from Rome to shrines all over the world, offering spiritual and logistical assistence.
Thanks to these new flights, agents of the ORP will be present at the airport of Tarbes-Lourdes as well as inside the shrine at Lourdes. These new provisions will make it possible to take care of thousands of individual travelers, young people or families travelling from Rome.
The Shrine at Lourdes
The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France is one of the largest pilgrimage destinations in the world. In 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous a total of 18 times at the grotto of Massabielle (from masse vieille: “Old Mass”). The Virgin instructed Bernadette to tell the priests to build a chapel on the site, and showed her a spring whose waters have been the means for many miraculous healings. When Bernadette finally asked the Lady who she was, the Virgin responded: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
Lourdes is the Marian Shrine most frequently visited by people seeking healing for themselves and their loved ones.
The Nutella connection
One frequent pilgrim to Lourdes was the inventor of Nutella, Italian entrepreneur Michele Ferrero (April 26, 1925 – February 14, 2015).
His company (Ferrero) founded in 1946 in Italy, produced the popular hazelnut chocolate spread along with Mon Cheri, Kinder Eggs, Ferrero Rocher, Fiesta, Tic Tacs, and Pocket Coffee treats.
A fervent Catholic, Michele Ferrero had a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes placed in every factory and office in his company.
At the celebration of the 50th anniversary of its founding, he said: “The success of Ferrero we owe to Our Lady of Lourdes; without her we can do little.”
A man of strong faith, each year Ferrero went on pilgrimage to Lourdes, taking his top manager, and organized a visit to the French shrine for his employees.
According to The Guardian UK newspaper, which published a profile of him in 2011, the company’s Rocher pralines are rumored to have been inspired by the craggy rock grotto, called the Rocher de Massabielle, at the shrine in Lourdes, where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette.