Until now the Missionaries had gone out to preach missions, but here the pilgrims came to them and so the sanctuary became a place of permanent mission with the people coming to them.
More than 20 000 souls flock there every year to renew themselves in spiritual fervour in the shelter of this truly impressive shrine and which inspires one with something indefinable but which marvellously draws one up to God.
Letter to Pierre Mie, October 1818, EO VI n.31
The aim of the sanctuary was the same as that of the parish missions: to bring the most abandoned to conversion and to a life of fullness in God.
Apart from the pilgrims, the sanctuary church acted also as the local parish for the hamlet of Laus. It is important to note that Eugene did not want his Missionaries in France to be pastors of parishes as such. They accepted this charge if it was primarily a part of a missionary center of pilgrimage and doubled as the local parish.