LourdesBy Ruth Harris
Lourdes was at the very centre of nineteenth century debates on religion, science and medicine. Both the Church and secularists championed the 'miracle' town as crucial in shaping how society should think about the mind, body and spirit. Since the `visions' of Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 transformed the quiet Pyrenean town into an international tourist and pilgrimage destination, it has been a site for controversy. In her well-crafted and carefully researched book, Harris deftly places Lourdes and its attendant spiritual movement firmly at the centre of French history and shows its significance in the country's development.