Religion: Piracy in Piety

The celebrated shrine at Lourdes is the No. 1 pilgrimage center in Christendom, but the town of Lourdes exploits the shrine's fame with a brazen tastelessness that is alarming French churchmen. Chief offenders are the dealers in pious objects. In Lourdes, a Pyrenees town of only 16,000 inhabitants but more than 600 hotels, some 580 of the total 710 businesses deal solely in these gimmicky souvenirs of St. Bernadette Soubirous. Samples: neckties that glow at night with Bernadette's image, washable plastic Virgins in every size, corkscrews in the shape of Bernadette adoring the Virgin, fountain pens with peep-show Virgins in...

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