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.