»I am the Immaculate Conception,« said the lady in white to a 14 year-old girl, Bernadette Soubirous, when they met by the banks of a dirty river, just outside the little town of Lourdes, by the french Pyrénées mountains. That was in 1858.

Lourdes has been at the center of a heated debate in France for more than a century.
Every year more than five million pilgrims visit the Grotto of Lourdes. And since the apparitions, Lourdes has seen thousands of cases of unexplained cures. To this day, 68 cases have been recognized as miraculous by the Catholic Church.

Eric Saint-Germier lived in Lourdes and had terminal cancer in 2012. He told me, that he was scared and bitter. He was bitter at the hope of the millions of pilgrims just outside his doorstep, while his death was imminent. And he was afraid of dying: »When I'm dead, there will be nothing left on Earth to testify that I have lived. No children, nothing. My fire goes out with me.« Eric Saint-Germier died on the 15th of October 2012, just a few days after the 68th miracle of Lourdes was proclaimed.

The project Lourdes is geographically limited and doesn't have any main characters. The project is a personal exploration of what I saw in Lourdes: a historical perspective that went far beyond the geographical limitations of the city and the sanctuairies: With the city of Lourdes, comes a century of heated debate in France, the legitimacy of the Catholic Church in light of the worldly resurfacing abuse-scandals, and the sheer fact that at least in France, the religious institutions go to great lengths to provide the poor and homeless with food and shelter.