Our Lady of Lourdes grotto, France. / Elise Harris/CNA.

Vatican City, Mar 30, 2022 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis named on Wednesday a new bishop of the French Catholic diocese that is home to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, one of the world’s most-visited Marian shrines.

Msgr. Jean-Marc Micas was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Tarbes-et-Lourdes on March 30.

Micas currently serves as the French provincial superior of the Society of Priests of Saint-Sulpice (PSS), a society of apostolic life founded in 1642 that focuses on priestly formation.

The 58-year-old priest will fill the vacancy in the Lourdes diocese left when Bishop Nicolas Brouwet was reassigned as bishop of Nîmes in August 2021.

In a video message on March 30, Micas said that he was overwhelmed and surprised by his appointment.

He noted the difficulties and suffering facing the Church in France as a result of clerical abuse scandals and said he hoped to be a pastor and friend to all entrusted to his care within the diocese.

“Dear brothers and sisters, I love you already … I pray for you and indeed I do it with a great tenderness and a great impatience to become acquainted with your faces, your names, and the communities to which you belong and then to walk this path with you,” Micas said.

Bishop-elect Jean-Marc Micas of Tarbes-et-Lourdes. Screenshot from Diocèse Tarbes et Lourdes YouTube channel.
Bishop-elect Jean-Marc Micas of Tarbes-et-Lourdes. Screenshot from Diocèse Tarbes et Lourdes YouTube channel.

Born in Montélimar, a town in the southeastern French region of Rhône-Alpes, Micas obtained a degree in civil and climate engineering from the University of Toulouse before he became a priest.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Toulouse in 1991, at the age of 27, and spent five years as the diocesan chaplain for the Eucharistic Youth Movement in the 1990s. Micas also served for three years as the head of vocations for the archdiocese.

Micas joined the Society of Priests of Saint-Sulpice in 1999 and served as a member of the National Council of Major Seminaries from 2011 to 2013. Since 2013, he has led the largest province of the priestly society founded in France.

The Catholic Diocese of Tarbes-et-Lourdes traces its roots back for centuries before the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary occurred in the town of Lourdes in 1858. The earliest record of a bishop of Tarbes was in 394 AD.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes has been known as a refuge for the sick for more than a century. The shrine contains a spring through which miraculous healings have been documented.

There have been more than 7,000 miraculous recoveries attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes at the shrine since the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous.

Of these, fewer than 100 have been recognized by Lourdes officials, while others have been documented by bishops in local dioceses. An official miraculous recovery must generally be a complete, spontaneous, and immediate healing from a documented medical condition.

The most recent official miracle attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes was declared in 2018.

The Marian shrine has recently faced financial difficulties after 95% of pilgrimages were canceled in 2020, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars used to maintain the shrine.

Pope Francis named Archbishop Antoine Hérouard of Dijon as a special papal delegate to oversee the pastoral care of pilgrims and other management of the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in 2019.