They’re taking no chances.
Due to all the terrorist attacks in France in recent months – the most recent one targeting a Catholic church – French officials provided unprecedented security for the 25,000 pilgrims that participated in the feast of the Assumption procession at Lourdes.
Police helicopters patrolling in the sky overhead, regular checkpoints, undercover cops spread throughout the crowd, and hundreds of more police than normal were sent to protect the annual event.
“It’s important to show that life goes on,” a city official said. “It’s not because a few fanatics try to sow fear that we should abandon our faith, our way of life.”
In the last year alone, there have been at least 7 attacks linked to ISIS or other Islamic extremist groups, the most significant being the Paris attacks in November that left 130 dead, the Nice truck attack in that left 84 dead, and the recent beheading of Fr. Jacques Hamel while he was celebrating Mass.
Lourdes, France is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year. In 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a poor girl and, among other things, told her to build a church on the site, as well as directed her to a stream of water coming from the ground. The water from the spring has been associated with many miracles over the last century and a half.
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