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Photo: Felix Carroll

Pilgrims gather at the Lourdes Grotto, on Eden Hill, in Stockbridge, Mass.

Pope Benedict OKs Plenary Indulgence

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To honor the Jubilee Year celebrating the 150th anniversary of Mary's appearance to St. Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, Pope Benedict XVI has approved a plenary indulgence.

The special dispensation will be granted pilgrims who visit either the apparition site in France or a dedicated Lourdes shrine such as the Lourdes Grotto and Immaculate Conception Candle Shrine at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.

Pope Benedict, through a spokesperson, said he took this action to encourage a renewed commitment to holiness and devotion to Mary, "who calls the faithful to her Son."

Pilgrims can receive the indulgence in two ways:

1. By visiting the Massabielle Grotto in Lourdes, where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette 18 times from February to July 1858, anytime until Dec. 8, 2008.

2. By visiting any public sanctuary, shrine, or "other worthy place" dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes from Feb. 2 through 11 of this year.

Pilgrims receive the indulgence by going to confession near the time of their pilgrimage, receiving the Eucharist, and praying for the intentions of the Pope, each done in a spirit of detachment from the attraction of sin.

— Complied from Vatican sources and wire dispatches

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