LOURDES, France – The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, including its chapels and grottos, was evacuated for several hours Aug. 15 following a bomb threat that turned out to be false.
Vatican Radio reported that French police received a phone call at 11:39 a.m. saying that four bombs would go off at 3 p.m. at the shrine complex.
A police official told the news agency Agence France Presse, “The call came from a phone booth” and the caller, a male, “seemed determined enough” that police decided to evacuate the shrine on the feast of the Assumption of Mary.
A police search of the area did not result in any explosives being found and a 4:30 p.m. eucharistic procession was held as planned, the news agency reported.
Some 30,000 pilgrims were participating in feast day services at the shrine, but by the time the bomb threat was made, many of the pilgrims already were away from the sanctuary having lunch.
The area around the shrine is wired for sound usually used for broadcasting prayers during processions. But after receiving the bomb threat, the sound system was used to request – in six languages – that people leave the area, AFP reported.