THE HAPPENING AT LOURDES by Alan Neame

THE HAPPENING AT LOURDES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the Catholic Church of today miracles have fallen into some disrepute, and shrines (as the habitual situs of them) have fared little better. One of the few exceptions is Lourdes and its famous grotto, where scientifically unexplainable events are practically an everyday occurrence even in this age of demythologization and skepticism. The Happening at Lourdes is essentially a history of the town of Lourdes--""still a one-horse town out of which a supernova has burst""--and the ""happening"" (i.e., the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette) is the point of departure for a surprisingly interesting, often amusing, but always instructive narrative which takes into account every facet of the lore of Lourdes from architecture to rainfall, from pilgrimages to the philology of the langue d'oc, from the influence of Vatican II on the shrine to the comments of Mr. Malcolm Muggeridge, and from graffiti to the impact of Lourdes on Franco-Vatican relations. There have been, of course, dozens of books on Lourdes, and many of them are more scholarly, more pious, and much more reverent than Mr. Neame's; but it would be impossible to find one that tells the whole story more knowledgeably or more entertainingly than The Happening at Lourdes. It is ""Lourdes for everyone""--skeptics as well as believers.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster