Basilica of St. Pius X

The Basilica of Saint Pius X, informally known as the Underground Basilica, is a large Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, located in the town of Lourdes, France. It is part of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. Lourdes is a major Catholic pilgrimage site and the Catholic Church endorses the belief that the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette Soubirous there.

Basilica of Saint Pius X
Basilique Saint Pie X (in French)
Basilique Saint-Pie X Luc Viatour small.jpg
View along the nave towards the central sanctuary.
AffiliationRoman Catholic
Ecclesiastical or organizational statusMinor basilica
Year consecrated1958
LocationFrance Lourdes
Geographic coordinates43°05′50″N 00°03′13″W / 43.09722°N 0.05361°W / 43.09722; -0.05361Coordinates: 43°05′50″N 00°03′13″W / 43.09722°N 0.05361°W / 43.09722; -0.05361
Architect(s)Pierre Vago, Eugene Freyssinet
Construction cost$ 5.6 million
Length191 metres (627 ft)
Width61 metres (200 ft)
Official website

The Basilica of St. Pius X is the largest and most controversial of the Domain's churches. It was completed in 1958 in anticipation of the enormous crowds expected in Lourdes for the centenary of the Apparitions. The controversy of this church consists of the fact that it is a modern, concrete building, and it is almost entirely underground (part of the building lies beneath the Boulevard Père Rémi Sempé above).[1]

Dimensions and capacityEdit

The Basilica was designed by the architect Pierre Vago. The nave is oval, 191 metres (627 ft) long and 61 metres (200 ft) wide, and slopes gently upwards from the centre, where the sanctuary is situated on a raised platform. The ceiling is low, at only 10 metres (33 ft) high, and is supported by 58 pre-stressed concrete pillars which meet 29 concrete beams which cross the ceiling, giving it the impression of an upturned ship. This design creates a very large open space, of 12,000 square metres (130,000 sq ft), for maximum visibility from any part of the nave. When full it can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers.

Interior decorationEdit

Lourdes Bernadette Gemmail (René Margotton)

On the walls there are 52 images in the gemmail style of overlapping stained glass. On the west ramp are the 15 traditional Mysteries of the Rosary, and on the east ramp are the Stations of the Cross, designed by Denys de Solère. On the lower part of the east side is the series "Bernadette's Way of Light",[2] based on sketches by René Margotton, which depict the eighteen apparitions [3] together with two scenes from her life. There are two further images, one on each side of the entrance to the sacristy.[4]


The consecration of the basilica was on March 25, 1958 by Angelo Cardinal Roncalli, who was earlier the Papal Nuncio to France, then Patriarch of Venezia, and who later became Pope John XXIII. The consecration year was selected to celebrate the centenary of the 18 visions of the Virgin Mary by Saint Bernadette. This basilica is one of the largest churches inspired by Visions of Jesus and Mary.


  • Chaudesaigues, Jean (1959), The Basilica of St Pius X at Lourdes, Cement and Concrete Association
  1. ^ Basilica of St. Pius X at Atlas Obscura, August 27, 2013.
  2. ^ Basilique Saint Pie X (partie Est basse de l’édifice)
  3. ^ "Friday 16th July 1858 the 18th and final apparition".
  4. ^ Official website of the sanctuary Archived 2013-12-15 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 15 December 2013

External linksEdit