Financial times at the sanctuaries have been better. Everyone involved with the church is feeling the crisis.
Today, Lourdes is a town where mass tourism coexists with a church that has seen better times and is fighting for its financial survival.
Pierre Abadias, Head of Fundraising at the Grotto says that the church is directly dependent on the number of pilgrims: "The church makes no money, but survives on people's generosity. The fewer pilgrims, the less money, it's as simple as that, "he says. "When the Italians suddenly can not afford to travel here, we can feel it," he says
with reference to last year's deficit, which he blames on the global financial crisis.
But the international press and the rank and file catholics see it differently. While the church blames the financial problems on the economic crisis, the other side claims that the crisis is self-inflicted - and that it has nothing to do with money. They say that the problems of the church must be seen in direct relation to the church's handling of decades of abuse of children and young people.