Millions of pilgrims travel to Lourdes each year. What made it such an important symbol of hope and healing?
(THE CONVERSATION) Thousands of apparitions of the Virgin Mary have been reported by Christians across the world, from fourth-century Asia Minor , which is now Turkey, to contemporary California . Of all of these, the most renowned are the visions of Our Lady of Lourdes, reported in the mid-19th century by a teenage girl in the French Pyrenees mountains.
Ever since, devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes has gripped the Catholic imagination . Lourdes is one of the very few apparitions the Vatican has officially commended as worthy of belief , with its own feast day, Feb. 11, in the church’s annual liturgical calendar.
Some 6 million pilgrims come to the shrine in Lourdes, France , each year to pray and seek healing.
This popular pilgrimage is one of the most visible examples of the devotion of many Catholics to Mary. I am a Jesuit priest and theologian whose research focuses on Mariology , the academic study of ideas about Mary in Christian history.
Some 6 million pilgrims come to the shrine in Lourdes, France, each year to pray and seek healing.
The Lady in the Grotto
In 1858, a 14-year-old girl named Bernadette Soubirous reported having 18 visions of a beautiful “young lady” in a cave near Lourdes, which was then a provincial town. Soubirous said that the figure identified herself as “ the Immaculate Conception ” and instructed the girl to dig into the earth and drink the water she found there. In other messages, the lady asked for a church to be built there so priests could come in procession.
Reports of the events drew large crowds who believed them to be apparitions of the Virgin Mary, and many people began attributing healing properties to the waters of the spring. These extraordinary events soon attracted the notice of the Parisian press and gained the support of the French imperial court .
Many Catholics interpreted the apparitions as confirming the doctrine of Immaculate Conception , which Pope Pius IX in 1854 had declared to be an essential element of Catholic faith. This teaching holds that Mary, as the mother of Jesus, was conceived without original sin – the incomplete union with God that, according to Catholic belief, all people are born with as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobeying God in the Garden of Eden.
Many Catholics interpreted the apparitions as confirming the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Church officials were quickly alerted to Soubirous’ experiences and were initially concerned about the truth of her account. After investigating, the local bishop became convinced that Mary had indeed appeared to the young woman. Popes later encouraged veneration at Lourdes, and in 1933, Soubirous herself was canonized as St. Bernadette .
Catholic churches, schools and hospitals soon began to be dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, and replicas of the cave , or “grotto,” are today found throughout the world. These sites are built for worshippers who cannot make the pilgrimage but who seek to share in the experience of Lourdes.
Researching popular Catholic devotions has taught me that apparitions attract skeptics as easily as they do crowds of enthusiastic believers. They also stir up religious and political controversy .
From the start, church officials at Lourdes sought to deny claims of direct supernatural intervention for cures that could be scientifically explained instead. Today physicians at the International Medical Committee of Lourdes run a rigorous process of investigating claims of miraculous healings there.
Most reported healings turn out to have purely natural causes, but if the committee does not find a medical explanation, it refers the case to the local bishop for investigation. Since the 1860s, church officials have formally declared 70 of the Lourdes healings to be miracles. The most recent case , which they confirmed in 2018, involved the healing of a French nun who had been using a wheelchair and suffering severe pain for almost 30 years, but recovered soon after her pilgrimage to the grotto.
Over the course of the 20th century, the number of new miracles confirmed in Lourdes has gradually slowed because of growth in scientific understanding.
Since the 1860s, church officials have formally declared 70 of the Lourdes healings to be miracles.
In 2006, church officials declared that, beyond “miracles,” they would recognize three additional categories of healing at Lourdes, in light of advances in medical knowledge: “unexpected,” “confirmed” or “exceptional” healings. The new categories relax the previous strict division between “natural” and “supernatural” healings, with the implication that God intervenes in many cases in which health is restored, even those that do not strictly qualify as “miracles” in the sense traditionally used by the Catholic Church .
Devotion goes digital
If the number of officially recognized miracles has declined, grassroots faith in Lourdes is as strong as ever. An understanding that sickness and healing involve psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects as well as physical ones helps explain some of Lourdes’ continuing appeal for many contemporary Catholics.
Devotional practices involve the sensory experiences of seeing, touching, tasting and hearing . Visitors travel from all over the world to light candles in the grotto, touch the rock where Soubirous said the Virgin appeared, join in the chants of the twice-daily processions, attend Mass, take Communion, and bathe in and drink the holy waters of the spring.
Psychologically, being in the company of large crowds of fellow believers strengthens social faith identity , as does seeing sick pilgrims treated with dignity and honor.
An understanding that sickness and healing involve psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects as well as physical ones helps explain some of Lourdes’ continuing appeal for many contemporary Catholics.
Many family, friends, spiritual advisers and volunteers from international Catholic organizations, such as the Order of Malta , accompany visitors too ill to travel alone. The physical work of caring for the sick affects people spiritually. I have visited Lourdes several times as both helper and chaplain and heard many confessions there. I know that many of those who volunteer their time as helpers – including people who are not practicing Catholics or even Christians – return home with deeper gratitude for their own health and a livelier faith.
For two months in 2020, the shrine at Lourdes closed for the first time in its history because of the pandemic. Since then, live-streaming of the grotto has attracted an even wider audience. Its dedicated YouTube channel and other social media are 21st-century virtual equivalents of the replica grottoes built in church grounds, schools, hospitals and homes around the world .
Skeptics will likely continue to dispute claims of miraculous healings and apparitions of the Virgin Mary. For millions, however, Lourdes will indisputably continue to be an important faith symbol of comfort and care, and a byword for healing and hope.
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The Message of the Virgin of Lourdes
by Bishop Donald Montrose, D.D.
The Most Reverend Donald Montrose, D.D., Bishop of Stockton, discusses Mary in light of the Lourdes apparitions.
Publisher & Date
By the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and our own authority, we declare, pronounce, and define: the doctrine which hold that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary was from the first moment of her conception, by the singular, grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Christ Jesus the Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin, is revealed by God and therefore, firmly and constantly to be believed by all the faithful. (The Christian Faith #709).
The Immaculate Conception of Mary
Mary and the Holy Spirit
God's Gift to Us
Mary is Our Remedy
This item 5289 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org
- Saint of the Day
Our Lady of Lourdes
- February 11
- Franciscan Media
Image: Our Lady of Lourdes in Rosary Square – Lourdes | José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro
Saint of the day for february 11.
The Story of Our Lady of Lourdes
On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus . A little more than three years later, on February 11, 1858, a young lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. This began a series of visions. During the apparition on March 25, the lady identified herself with the words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
Bernadette was a sickly child of poor parents. Their practice of the Catholic faith was scarcely more than lukewarm. Bernadette could pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Creed. She also knew the prayer of the Miraculous Medal: “O Mary conceived without sin.”
During interrogations Bernadette gave an account of what she saw. It was “something white in the shape of a girl.” She used the word aquero , a dialect term meaning “this thing.” It was “a pretty young girl with a rosary over her arm.” Her white robe was encircled by a blue girdle. She wore a white veil. There was a yellow rose on each foot. A rosary was in her hand. Bernadette was also impressed by the fact that the lady did not use the informal form of address ( tu ), but the polite form ( vous ). The humble virgin appeared to a humble girl and treated her with dignity.
Through that humble girl, Mary revitalized and continues to revitalize the faith of millions of people. People began to flock to Lourdes from other parts of France and from all over the world. In 1862 Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions and authorized the cult of Our Lady of Lourdes for the diocese. The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes became worldwide in 1907.
Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and healing, but even more of faith. Church authorities have recognized over 60 miraculous cures, although there have probably been many more. To people of faith this is not surprising. It is a continuation of Jesus’ healing miracles—now performed at the intercession of his mother. Some would say that the greater miracles are hidden. Many who visit Lourdes return home with renewed faith and a readiness to serve God in their needy brothers and sisters.
There still may be people who doubt the apparitions of Lourdes. Perhaps the best that can be said to them are the words that introduce the film The Song of Bernadette : “For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.”
Our Lady of Lourdes is the Patron Saint of:
Relief from Physical Ills
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The grotto of apparitions
At the heart of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Massabielle Grotto is where the Lourdes Apparitions took place.
Step back into history
In 1858, a time when Lourdes had a population of just over 4,000, the Virgin Mary appeared to the young Bernadette Soubirous . On 11 February 1858, Bernadette went to the Massabielle rock , on the banks of the Gave, to gather dead wood. The spot was known as the “pigs’ shelter” as it was so dirty and dark. It was there that Bernadette heard a sound “like a gust of wind”. Then she saw a lady in the rock, which was the first apparition . 17 others would follow, until 16 July 1858.
Back to the source…
The Massabielle Grotto is the very place where the apparitions occurred, and within it is the spring that Bernadette discovered. To the right of the Grotto are the Taps where you can drink Lourdes water . Those who wish to can also go to the Sanctuary Baths and perform the water gesture.
There are replicas of the Lourdes Grotto all over the world. In 2015, copies were recorded at over 765 sites in France and 321 in the rest of the world.
Plan your visit
- Opening times
The site is accessible all year round. You can enter free of charge and explore at your leisure.
The Grotto of Apparitions is located at the following address:
Avenue Mgr Théas Sanctuaire ND de Lourdes 65100 LOURDES
The car park closest to the grotto is located at the top of Boulevard de la Grotte, near Boulevard du Lapacca.
If you are coming by train, Lourdes station is about 2 kilometres away from the sanctuaries.
Take the L4 and L5 bus
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Visit the sanctuary
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes covers an area of 52 hectares. Within the Domain, you will find 22 places of worship. Some of these gathering places really must be seen if you want to make the most of your visit. From the Massabielle Grotto to the Church of St. Bernadette through the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary , set forth to discover the Sanctuary and its history.
Other places to visit
Welcome to the Sanctuaire of Lourdes
- The appari...
Thursday 11th february 1858: the first meeting.
Accompanied by her sister and a friend, Bernadette went to Massabielle on the banks of the Gave to collect bones and dead wood. Removing her socks in order to cross the stream, she heard a noise like a gust of wind, she looked up towards the Grotto : “I saw a lady dressed in white, she wore a white dress, and equally white veils, a blue belt and a yellow rose on each foot.” Bernadette made the Sign of the Cross and said the Rosary with the lady. When the prayer ended the Lady suddenly vanished.
Sunday 14th february 1858: holy water
Bernadette felt an inner force drawing her to the Grotto in spite of the fact that she was forbidden to go there by her parents. At her insistence, her mother allowed her; after the first decade of the Rosary, she saw the same lady appearing. She sprinkled holy water at her. The lady smiled and bent her head. When the Rosary ended she disappeared.
Thursday 18th february 1858: the Lady speaks
For the first time, the Lady spoke. Bernadette held out a pen and paper asking her to write her name. She replied; “It is not necessary” and she added: “I do not promise to make you happy in this world but in the other. Would you be kind enough to come here for a fortnight?”
Friday 19th february 1858: the first candle
Bernadette came to the Grotto with a lighted blessed candle. This is the origin of carrying candles and lighting them in front of the Grotto.
Saturday 20th february 1858: in silence
The Lady taught her a personal prayer. At the end of the vision Bernadette is overcome with a great sadness.
Sunday 21th february 1858: “Aquero”
The Lady appeared to Bernadette very early in the morning. About one hundred people were present. Afterwards the Police Commissioner, Jacomet, questioned her. He wanted Bernadette to tell what she saw. Bernadette would only speak of “AQUÉRO” (“that thing” in local dialect)
Tuesday 23th february 1858: the secret
Surrounded by 150 persons, Bernadette arrived at the Grotto. The Apparition reveals to her a secret “only for her alone”.
Wednesday 24th february 1858: «Penance !»
The message of the Lady: “Penance! Penance! Penance! Pray to God for sinners. Kiss the ground as an act of penance for sinners!”
Thursday 25th february 1858: the spring
Three hundred people were present. Bernadette relates; “She told me to go, drink of the spring (….) I only found a little muddy water. At the fourth attempt I was able to drink. She also made me eat the bitter herbs that were found near the spring, and then the vision left and went away.” In front of the crowd that was asking “Do you think that she is mad doing things like that?” she replied; “It is for sinners.”
Saturday 27th february 1858: silence
Eight hundred people were present. The Apparition was silent. Bernadette drank the water from the spring and carried out her usual acts of penance.
Sunday 28th february 1858: the ecstasy
Over one thousand people were present at the ecstasy. Bernadette prayed, kissed the ground and moved on her knees as a sign of penance. She was then taken to the house of Judge Ribes who threatened to put her in prison.
Monday 1st march 1858: the first miracle
Over one thousand five hundred people assembled and among them, for the first time, a priest. In the night, Catherine Latapie, a woman from Loubajac, 7 kilometres away , went to the Grotto, she plunged her dislocated arm into the water of the spring: her arm and her hand regained their movement.
Tuesday 2nd march 1858: message to the priests
The crowd becomes larger and larger. The Lady asked her: “Go and tell the priests that people are to come here in procession and to build a chapel here.” Bernadette spoke of this to Fr. Peyramale, the Parish Priest of Lourdes. He wanted to know only one thing: the Lady’s name. He demanded another test; to see the wild rose bush flower at the Grotto in the middle of winter.
Wednesday 3rd march 1858: a smile
From 7 o’clock in the morning, in the presence of three thousand people, Bernadette arrived at the Grotto, but the vision did not appear! After school, she heard the inner invitation of the Lady. She went to the Grotto and asked her again for her name. The response was a smile. The Parish Priest told her again: “If the Lady really wishes that a chapel be built, then she must tell us her name and make the rose bush bloom at the Grotto.”
Thursday 4th march 1858: the day all were waiting for !
The ever-greater crowd (about eight thousand people) waited for a miracle at the end of the fortnight. The vision was silent. Fr. Peyramale stuck to his position. For twenty days Bernadette did not go to the Grotto, she no longer felt the irresistible invitation.
Thursday 25th march 1858: the name they waited for !
The vision finally revealed her name, but the wild rose bush, on which she stood during the Apparitions, did not bloom. Bernadette recounted : “She extended her arms towards the ground, then joined them as though in prayer and said Que soy era Immaculada Concepciou (I am the Immaculate Conception)”. The young visionary left and, running all the way, repeated continuously the words that she did not understand. These words troubled the brave Parish Priest. Bernadette was ignorant of the fact that this theological expression was assigned to the Blessed Virgin. Four years earlier, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared this a truth of the Catholic Faith (a dogma).
Wednesday 7th april 1858: the miracle of the candle
During this apparition, Bernadette had to keep her candle alight. The flame licked along her hand without burning it. A medical doctor, Dr. Douzous, immediately witnessed this fact.
Friday 16th july 1858 : the final apparition
Bernadette received the mysterious call to the Grotto, but her way was blocked and closed off by a barrier. She thus arrived across from the Grotto to the other side of the Gave. “I felt that I was in front of the Grotto, at the same distance as before, I saw only the Blessed Virgin, and she was more beautiful than ever!”
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5 fascinating facts about the apparitions of our lady of lourdes.
by Francesca Pollio
Denver Newsroom, Feb 11, 2022 / 03:00 am
On Feb. 11, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. In Lourdes, France, in 1858, thirteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous was collecting pieces of wood as part of her daily chores when she noticed a startling wind and rustling sound. The noise came from a nearby grotto. When Bernadette looked toward it, she saw it filled with a golden light, and a beautiful lady.
It was at this grotto that the Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette 18 times and where millions of Catholic pilgrims visit the healing waters at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Records have been kept from the exchanges between Bernadette and our Blessed Mother. Here are five of the most fascinating facts about the apparitions that took place at the grotto:
1. The Paralyzation
When Bernadette first saw the beautiful lady in the grotto during the first apparition, on Feb. 11, 1858, it is said that she immediately smiled at Bernadette and signaled to her to come closer, in the same way a mother motions to her child. Bernadette took out her rosary and knelt before the Lady, who also had a rosary on her right arm. When Bernadette tried to begin saying the rosary by making the sign of the cross, her arm was paralyzed. It was only after the Lady made the sign of the cross herself that Bernadette was able to do the same. The Lady remained silent as Bernadette prayed the rosary, but the beads of her rosary passed between her fingers.
2. The Secret Prayer
During the fifth apparition, which took place on Feb. 20, 1858, the Lady taught Bernadette a prayer, which she recited everyday for the rest of her life. However, she never revealed the prayer to anyone, but she did say she was told to always bring a blessed candle with her. This is why candles perpetually burn at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.
3. The Lady shares her Name
At the sixteenth apparition, on March 25, 1858, the feast of the Annunciation, the Lady revealed her identity to Bernadette, calling herself the “Immaculate Conception.”
4. The Burn of Fire
Bernadette never forgot to bring a lighted candle to the grotto since she was told to do so by the Lady. During the seventeenth apparition, on April 7, 1858, Bernadette unconsciously placed one of her hands over the burning flame. Witnesses saw the flame burning through her fingers, and yet she was able to pray for fifteen minutes with the flame burning her hand. As she emerged from her prayer, she was unscathed and didn’t even notice cries of horror from the people in the crowd. Dr. Dozous, a well-known physician from Lourdes, took another lit candle, and without warning, placed the flame to her hand. Bernadette immediately cried out in pain.
5. The Miracle of Bernadette’s Body
After the apparitions ended, Bernadette went on to become a Sister of Charity. She died at age 34, on April 16, 1879. She was buried on the convent grounds in Nevers, France. Thirty years later, on Sept. 22, 1909, her body was exhumed and found completely intact. A second exhumation took place on April 3, 1919. The body was found in the exact same state as it had been ten years earlier. Bernadette was canonized a saint on Dec. 8, 1933 by Pope Pius XI.
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Lourdes apparitions of Our Lady began in 1858, when a 14-year old peasant girl from Lourdes called Bernadette, was visited 18 times by the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Bernadette told her mother about the enchanted first vision and how wonderful it was to such a beautiful lady. Bernadette's Mother questioned her in disbelief, Bernadette answered her mothers question by saying I have seen a "lady" in the cave of Massabielle.
The day Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary for the first time was on the 11 February 1858, while gathering firewood with her sister and friend.
The 1st appearance (11 February)
The Cachot where the Soubirous family lived was cold and without firewood. At about 11 o'clock Bernadette and her sister Toinette and her friend Jeanne Abadie went to gather firewood around the Massabielle. Having arrived at the mill, instead of going on into the woods, they came to a river and realized they could go no further, Bernadette's sister and friend prepared to cross the water, soon Bernadette was alone on the other side, so Bernadette decided to try and cross the water without taking her stockings off, this was not possible and she returned back to the Grotto and started taking her stockings off. Bernadette heard a noise and looked towards the Grotto. Bernadette raised her head to look at the grotto again, after hearing the noise for a second time, she saw a lady dressed in white with a blue sash and a yellow roses on each foot. Bernadette took out her rosary and wanted to make the sign of the cross, but was unable to her, hand trembled. The lady she was seeing made the sign of the cross and the second time Bernadette manage to repeat the same actions of the lady who was dressed in white. Bernadette recited the the rosary and then the lady disappeared.
This was Bernadette's first apparition.
On realizing that she alone had seen the apparition, and not her sister or friend, she asked them not to tell a soul what she had seen. Toinette, was unable to keep a secret, and told their mother Louise Soubirous. Bernadette mother questioned her and forbid her to return to the Grotto again.
The 2nd appearance (14 February)
The second apparition that took place in Lourdes is one of the most difficult to reconstruct, because the events that took place were in fact not easy to place in their exact order.
The second time Bernadette went to the grotto (forbidden at first by her mother) was Sunday. After High Mass, her sister and friend asked Bernadette's mother again and she gave me permission to go.
The apparition took place between midday and 2pm. Bernadette asked the lady to remain if she came from God and sprinkled holy water on her, she collected the holy water from the parish, the lady replied with a smile. Bernadette was immobile, and her eyes fixed on the grotto started to say her rosary. Due to Bernadette being immobile she was carried back to the mill where she regained full consciousness, and was scorned by her mother "NEVER TO RETURN AGAIN"
The 3rd appearance (18 February)
Bernadette did not return to the grotto on the 15,16 and 17th their for no apparitions happened.
On the 18th Bernadette was accompanied by some reliable people to the grotto, villagers Jeanne-Marie, Milhet and Antionette Peyret,
For the first time on the 18th of February the lady spoke to Bernadette. Bernadette took to the grotto her paper and pen and asked the Lady " what is your name and what is it that you wish from me" the lady smiled and said "it is not necessary for you to write what down what I have to say", but asked Bernadette for a favor "would you please return for the next 15 days". Bernadette agreed. The Lady also told Bernadette "that she could not promise to make me happy in this world, but in the next."
The 4th appearance (19 February)
The 4th apparition happened in the early hours of Friday morning. Bernadette goes along to the grotto with her mother Aunt Bernarde and 10 other people all holding a candle for protection. Bernadette said that the lady asked her to leave her candle at the grotto. She said "It my aunts I'll will ask her, and if she say yes, I will."
The 5th appearance (20 February)
on the 5th apparition thirty people were present, the news of Bernadette and the apparition was traveling around the village and other towns and people came out of curiosity. Bernadette later said that the lady had learned her a new prayer, which she said recited every day of her life, the prayer was never repeated or wrote down to anyone.
People assumed that Bernadette's lady was the Blessed Virgin Mary,
The 6th appearance (21 February)
This was the first Sunday in Lent with the apparition taking place in the early hours of the morning. A large number of over 100 people were present, also present was the police on orders Dominique Jacomet the Commissioner. Bernadette as normal recited the Rosary and silently meditated. Afterwards Bernadette was interrogated by Dominique Jacomet, and Bernadette's father (Francois Soubirous) told Dominique Jacomet " I assure you that my daughter will no longer go to that grotto". This was the first official ingratiation by the authorities
The 7th appearance (23 February)
Even thou Bernadette was banded from the grotto she punctually returns and keeps her promise and her appointment with the lady. Even more people turned up this time, over 150 people, including Jean-Baptiste Estrade (a tax inspector), Duffo from the municipal council, the future mayor of Lourdes, and the officers from the garrison were present. Questioned on what happened Bernadette said later that the lady had entrusted her a secrets that concern her alone, adding that she can never reveal them
The 8th appearance (24 February)
The lady speaks with Bernadette entrusting her with a message, asking prayers for penitence, over 200-300 people were present. The lady said Pray to God for sinners. Kiss the earth as a sign of penitence for sinners!" The lady also told Bernadette to eat the grass growing below the grotto. From that moment every time Bernadette visited grotto she repeated the same act.
The 9th appearance (25 February)
300 people present at the grotto despite the weather being cold. The Lady told Bernadette that she should go and drink at the grotto and wash her self their. Seeing no water Bernadette was confused and therefore went to drink at the Gave. The lady called her back and pointed at a spot just below the grotto to the left. Bernadette started digging with her hands and eating the herbs, she then uncovered a puddle of muddy water. Bernadette obeyed the Lady and carried on scratching the ground until she was able to drink some of the water, after the fourth time of disregarding the muddy water.
When the apparition finished Bernadette said later "I do not know why the lady disappeared" and she went home. Bernadette was interrogated again.
The spring began to flow a day later.
The 10th appearance (27 February)
About 800 people were present and Bernadette repeats the acts of penitence and takes up her usual position.
The 11th appearance (28 February)
Over 1,500 people were present.
It is the second Sunday in lent, after mass an unpleasant surprise awaited Bernadette, she was questioned by Judge Ribes the 3rd interrogation to commence. Bernadette was banned once again from the grotto and she relayed " i will never give up.
The 12th appearance (1 March)
There were more than 1450 people present. Catherine Latapie claimed that she immersed her baby in the spring water at the grotto. Catherine Latapie baby had a paralyzed arm, miraculously he regained full movement. This was the first of the recognized cure to take place in Lourdes.
The 13th appearance (2 March)
The Madonna spoke to Bernadette and commanded her to "Go, tell the priests to come here in procession and tell them to build a chapel here." Bernadette went straight to to ask Fr. Peyramale which this wonderful new, Fr. Peyramale called Bernadette a liar and told her she must never return to the grotto, then he told her to leave. Bernadette was did not give up home and returned once again with one of the priests friends and repeated what the lady had told her, "Go, tell the priests to come here in procession and tell them to build a chapel here." Fr. Peyramale says "a chapel! a procession! poor child this is all what your stories needed" then in a sharp tone he says" ask this lady her name and when we know it we will build a sanctuary".
The 14th appearance (3 March)
Bernadette asked the lady for her name, the lady smiled.
The 15th appearance (4 March)
Eight thousand people turned up for the 15th apparition. for the 3rd time Bernadette went to see M. le Cur?, to tell him what the Lady had ordered "Go, tell the priests to come here in procession and tell them to build a chapel here." M. le Cur? looked at Bernadette for a moment, and said to her, 'Who is this lady?' Bernadette did not know who this Lady was. The commissioned ordered Bernadette to find out this Lady's name and only to return with an answer. Bernadette asked the lady for her name again, the lady smiled once more.
The 16th appearance (25 March)
On the 16th Bernadette announced the lady's name. Bernadette said "I went for a fortnight and every day I asked the lady who she was, but these questions only made her smile".
When Bernadette found out the Lady's name, the lady said 'I am the Immaculate Conception.' She was asked by an onlooker "are you I absolutely certain". Bernadette replied "yes".
The 17th appearance (7 April)
The town physician Dr. Pierre Romaine Dozous, watched the apparitions from a skeptical point of view. He believed Bernadette, and knew her to be genuine and not a person to make up wild stories. He place all the evidence together and decided to write a medical article explaining that one can have illusions or hallucinations without being insane and that Bernadette was not insane.
The apparition took place between Bernadette and the Virgin Mary about 5 0'clock in the morning with no conversation at all and it was reported that "Bernadette seemed to be even deeper, than usual trance. This was witnessed by hundreds of people.This is when the "miracle of the candle" happened, Bernadette was kneeling and saying her usual prayers with her Rosary while holding in her left hand, in her right hand was large lit candle. While Bernadette was saying her prayers she suddenly stopped, and joined her right hand with her left hand, their a flame from the big candle passed between Bernadette's fingers followed by a strong breeze. The flame from the touching candle made no marks on Bernadette's skin. After 15 minutes Bernadette, made way to the upper part of the grotto. When Bernadette and the apparition finished Dr. Pierre Romaine Dozous asked Bernadette to show her left hand for examination, their was no trace of burning marks an her hands. I then asked the person who was holding the candle to light it again and passe me the candle. Dr. Pierre Romaine Dozous reacted the candle burning under Bernadette's hand but she drew her hand away, saying 'You are burning me!'. This was confirmed by hundreds of eye witnesses.
Public access was denied on he 8th June in 1858, visitors were fined and guards protected grotto.
The 18th appearance (16 July)
The last apparition was never mentioned by Bernadette when making her depositions.
The grotto was still barricaded. Bernadette had to take another road to enter the grotto from the other side of the river. In front of the barricaded grotto is a private property. Kneeling outside the fence by the riverbank Bernadette said "I thought I was at the Grotto, like I saw the other times. All I saw was Our Lady , She was more beautiful than ever." the immaculate conception said noting and Bernadette never saw her again.
The grotto reopens to the public in October of 1858, ordered by the Emperor Louis Napoleon III.
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- The appari...
Jeudi 11 février 1858 : la première rencontre.
Première apparition. Accompagnée de sa sœur et d’une amie, Bernadette se rend à Massabielle, le long du Gave, pour ramasser des os et du bois mort. Enlevant ses bas pour traverser le ruisseau et aller dans la Grotte, elle entend un bruit qui ressemblait à un coup de vent, elle lève la tête vers la Grotte : “J’aperçus une dame vêtue de blanc : elle portait une robe blanche, un voile blanc également, une ceinture bleue et une rose jaune sur chaque pied.” Bernadette fait le signe de la croix et récite le chapelet avec la Dame. La prière terminée, la Dame disparaît brusquement.
Dimanche 14 février 1858 : l’eau bénite
Deuxième apparition. Bernadette ressent une force intérieure qui la pousse à retourner à la Grotte malgré l’interdiction de ses parents. Sur son insistance, sa mère l’y autorise ; après la première dizaine de chapelet, elle voit apparaître la même Dame. Elle lui jette de l’eau bénite. La Dame sourit et incline la tête. La prière du chapelet terminée, elle disparaît.
Jeudi 18 février 1858 : la Dame parle
Troisième apparition. Pour la première fois, la Dame parle. Bernadette lui présente une écritoire et lui demande d’écrire son nom. Elle lui dit : “Ce n’est pas nécessaire.” Elle ajoute : “Je ne vous promets pas de vous rendre heureuse en ce monde mais dans l’autre. Voulez-vous me faire la grâce de venir ici pendant quinze jours ?”
Vendredi 19 février 1858 : le premier cierge
Quatrième apparition. Bernadette vient à la Grotte avec un cierge bénit et allumé. C’est de ce geste qu’est née la coutume de porter des cierges et de les allumer devant la Grotte.
Samedi 20 février 1858 : la grande tristesse
Cinquième apparition. La Dame a appris une prière personnelle à Bernadette. A la fin de la vision, une grande tristesse envahit Bernadette.
Dimanche 21 février 1858 : “Aquer”
Sixième apparition. La Dame se présente à Bernadette le matin de bonne heure. Une centaine de personnes l’accompagnent. Elle est ensuite interrogée par le commissaire de police Jacomet. Il veut lui faire dire ce qu’elle a vu. Bernadette ne lui parle que d’ “Aquero” (cela).
Mardi 23 février 1858 : le secret
Septième apparition. Entourée de cent cinquante personnes, Bernadette se rend à la Grotte. L’Apparition lui révèle un secret “rien que pour elle.”
Mercredi 24 février 1858 : «Pénitence !»
Huitième apparition. Message de la Dame : “Pénitence ! Pénitence ! Pénitence ! Priez Dieu pour les pécheurs ! Allez baiser la terre en pénitence pour les pécheurs ! ”
Jeudi 25 février 1858 : la source
Neuvième apparition. Trois cents personnes sont présentes. Bernadette raconte : “Elle me dit d’aller boire à la source (…). Je ne trouvai qu’un peu d’eau vaseuse. Au quatrième essai je pus boire. Elle me fit également manger une herbe qui se trouvait près de la fontaine puis la vision disparut et je m’en allai.” Devant la foule qui lui demande: “Sais-tu qu’on te croit folle de faire des choses pareilles ?” Elle répond : “C’est pour les pécheurs.”
Samedi 27 février 1858 : silence
Dixième apparition. Huit cents personnes sont présentes. L’Apparition est silencieuse. Bernadette boit l’eau de la source et accomplit les gestes habituels de pénitence.
Dimanche 28 février 1858 : l’extase
Onzième apparition. Plus de mille personnes assistent à l’extase. Bernadette prie, baise la terre et rampe sur les genoux en signe de pénitence. Elle est ensuite emmenée chez le juge Ribes qui la menace de prison.
Lundi 1er mars 1858 : la première guérison miraculeuse
Douzième apparition. Plus de mille cinq cents personnes sont rassemblées et parmi elles, pour la première fois, un prêtre. Dans la nuit, Catherine Latapie, une amie lourdaise, se rend à la Grotte, elle trempe son bras déboîté dans l’eau de la source : son bras et sa main retrouvent leur souplesse.
Mardi 2 mars 1858 : le message aux prêtres
Treizième apparition. La foule grossit de plus en plus. La Dame lui demande : “Allez dire aux prêtres qu’on vienne ici en procession et qu’on y bâtisse une chapelle”. Bernadette en parle à l’abbé Peyramale, curé de Lourdes. Celui-ci ne veut savoir qu’une chose : le nom de la Dame. Il exige en plus une preuve : voir fleurir en plein hiver le rosier (l’églantier) de la Grotte.
Mercredi 3 mars 1858 : le sourire de la Dame
Quatorzième apparition. Dès 7 h le matin, en présence de trois mille personnes, Bernadette se rend à la Grotte, mais la vision n’apparaît pas ! Après l’école, elle entend l’invitation intérieure de la Dame. Elle se rend à la Grotte et lui redemande son nom. La réponse est un sourire. Le curé Peyramale lui redit : “Si la Dame désire vraiment une chapelle, qu’elle dise son nom et qu’elle fasse fleurir le rosier de la Grotte”.
Jeudi 4 mars 1858 : 8 000 personnes à la Grotte
Quinzième apparition. La foule toujours plus nombreuse (environ huit mille personnes) attend un miracle à la fin de cette quinzaine. La vision est silencieuse. Le curé Peyramale campe sur sa position. Pendant vingt jours, Bernadette ne va plus se rendre à la Grotte : elle n’en ressent plus l’irrésistible attrait.
Jeudi 25 mars 1858 : la Dame révèle son nom
Seizième apparition. La vision révèle enfin son nom, mais le rosier (ou églantier) sur lequel elle pose les pieds au cours de ses Apparitions ne fleurit pas. Bernadette raconte : “Elle leva les yeux au ciel, joignant en signe de prière ses mains qui étaient tendues et ouvertes vers la terre, et me dit: Que soy era immaculada councepciou”. Bernadette part en courant et répète sans cesse, sur le chemin, des mots qu’elle ne comprend pas. Ces mots troublent le brave curé. Bernadette ignorait cette expression théologique qui désigne la Sainte Vierge. Quatre ans plus tôt, en 1854, le pape Pie IX en avait fait une vérité de la foi catholique (dogme de l’Immaculée Conception).
Mercredi 7 avril 1858 : le miracle du cierge
Dix-septième apparition. Pendant cette apparition, Bernadette tient son cierge allumé. La flamme entoure longuement sa main sans la brûler. Ce fait est immédiatement constaté par le médecin, le docteur Douzous..
Vendredi 16 juillet 1858 : la dernière apparition
Dix-huitième apparition. Bernadette ressent le mystérieux appel de la Grotte, mais l’accès à Massabielle est interdit et fermé par une palissade. Elle se rend donc en face, de l’autre côté du Gave… et voit la Vierge Marie, une ultime fois : “Il me semblait que j’étais devant la grotte, à la même distance que les autres fois, je voyais seulement la Vierge, jamais je ne l’ai vue aussi belle !”.
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A little history of the apparition of Our Lady at Lourdes
“ I cannot promise you happiness in this life; only in the next”, said Our Lady to the little girl named Bernadette. The young girl lives out her life quietly, going to a convent and never seeking attention for herself. She gave all of herself to God and became a great saint. Her body is incorrupt and it looks so beautiful as if she is only sleeping. It is a marvel!
The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France is the most visited pilgrimage site in the world — principally because of the apparent healing properties of the waters of the spring that appeared during the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to a poor, fourteen-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubiroux.
The first apparition occurred February 11, 1858. There were eighteen in all; the last took place July 16, of the same year. Bernadette often fell into an ecstasy during these apparitions, as was witnessed by the hundreds who attended the later visions, though no one except Bernadette ever saw or heard the apparition. The mysterious vision Bernadette saw in the hollow of the rock Massabielle, where she and friends had gone to gather firewood, was that of a young and beautiful lady. “Lovelier than I have ever seen” said the child. She described the Lady as clothed in white, with a blue ribbon sash and a Rosary handing from her right arm. Now and then the apparition spoke to Bernadette.
One day, the Lady told the girl to drink of a mysterious fountain within the grotto itself, the existence of which was unknown, and of which there was no sign. But Bernadette scratched at the ground, and a spring immediately bubbled up and soon gushed forth.
On another occasion the apparition bade Bernadette go and tell the priests she wished a chapel to be built on the spot and processions to be made to the grotto. At first the clergy were incredulous. The priest said he would not believe it unless the apparition gave Bernadette her name.
After another apparition, Bernadette reported that the Lady told her, “I am the Immaculate Conception”. Though the girl was unfamiliar with the term, the Pope had declared the doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary in 1854. Four years after Bernadette’s visions, in 1862, the bishop of the diocese declared the faithful “justified in believing the reality of the apparition” of Our Lady.
A basilica was built upon the rock of Massabielle by M. Peyramale, the parish priest. In 1873 the great “national” French pilgrimages were inaugurated. Three years later the basilica was consecrated and the statue solemnly crowned. In 1883 the foundation stone of another church was laid, as the first was no longer large enough. It was built at the foot of the basilica and was consecrated in 1901 and called the Church of the Rosary. Pope Leo XIII authorized a special office and a Mass, in commemoration of the apparition, and in 1907 Pius X extended the observance of this feast to the entire Church; it is now observed on February 11.
(Various sources; principal source – Catholic Encyclopedia – 1913 edition)
If you have never seen the movie “The Song of Bernadette” from the 1940s, I recommend you do so. It can be rented. It was made by a Jewish man who made a promise to Our Lady at Lourdes that if he would survive and escape the horrors of WWII Europe, he would tell the story of St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes. He did survive and he kept his promise and the Oscar winning movie was made. This is a video that you never forget.
By Linda O'Brien, FTI
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Our Lady of Lourdes
In Lourdes, France, in 1844 a baby girl named Bernadette Soubirous was born. Bernadette’s family was very poor, and Bernadette was responsible for looking after and caring for her brothers and sisters.
Bernadette was a good natured girl with dark eyes and a round face. The only education Bernadette received was the Catholic teachings which she studied faithfully in the evenings.
At the age of 13, Bernadette was preparing for her First Holy Communion. One of Bernadette’s chores was to collect wood for the fire. On a cold day in February 1858, Bernadette and 2 companions headed off to the Gave River to collect pieces of wood. The 2 companions ran ahead and left Bernadette struggling to keep up. As Bernadette was taking off her shoes to make her way through the river, she was startled by a peculiar wind and rustling sound.
Bernadette looked up towards the grotto and the caves on the riverbank. Near the opening of the grotto, Bernadette glanced and noticed the cave was suddenly filled with golden light. Lifting up her eyes, she saw a lady of great beauty, dressed in a pure white robe with a blue sash, a veil over her head, a rosary clasped in her hands and yellow roses at her feet. Bernadette rubbed her eyes. What a beautiful lady! But where did she come from? And what was she doing here?
The beautiful lady smiled at Bernadette and asked her to say her rosary. Bernadette said her prayers and when she was finished she looked up, the lady had vanished. Bernadette caught up to her 2 friends and discovered that they were upset with her. What have you been doing? Playing in the river, while we are out here collecting wood? Bernadette told them about the vision she had just witnessed. The girls told Bernadette she was silly and probably just seeing things.
Bernadette felt drawn to the grotto and returned there on the next Sunday. Again Bernadette saw the beautiful lady. The third time Bernadette went to the grotto, the lady spoke to her. The beautiful lady asked Bernadette to come here every day for fifteen days. She said that she wanted Bernadette to tell the priests to build a chapel there. She told her to drink water from the stream. The lady also told Bernadette to pray for the conversion of sinners. Bernadette followed the requests.
On March 25, the Lady finally told Bernadette that she was Mary, the mother of Jesus, and that her purpose in appearing to Bernadette was to warn her to pray and make sacrifices for sinners. The miracles of body and soul performed at Lourdes are the proof that this message was a true warning from the queen of heaven to her children and that she was deeply interested in their welfare.
Bernadette’s daily visits to the grotto caused quite a stir in the countryside. Crowds of people began to gather and watch Bernadette as she examined the cave and obediently did the things the lady asked of her. They watched Bernadette scrape away soil beside the grotto until a spring of water started to trickle out. Would you believe this spring still provides 27,000 gallons of water everyday!
This is the sacred Lourdes water which heals all! At first, the priests, the town’s folk, and the families doubted Bernadette’s visions and the purpose in her activities. But Bernadette was stubborn and determined to follow Mary’s plans for her. Eventually everyone did believe Bernadette and the grotto at Lourdes became a place of worship and the Lourdes holy water was sacred for performing miracles.
At the age of 22, Bernadette became a nun and devoted her life to Mary, to praying for the conversion of sinners and to the service of God. Bernadette died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 36.
She will be remembered for believing in the greater glory of God as she was faithful to her mission, she was humble in glory and she was valiant in her sufferings. Today, Lourdes remains one of the most frequented Christian shrines in the world. More than 3 million visitors, pilgrims and tourists come each year to the Grotto of Massabielle, where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette 18 times in 1858.
The First Apparition - Thursday, February 11, 1858:
After dinner on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, Bernadette's mother told her children that there was no more wood in the house. Bernadette and her sister, Toinette, and a neighbor friend, Jeanne Abadie, went to the river Gave to gather wood. They had to cross a canal of cold water. Fearing that she would have an asthma attack, Bernadette stayed on the bank, and the other two girls crossed the stream and picked up wood under the grotto until they disappeared along the Gave.
Bernadette heard a great noise like the sound of a storm, but nothing was moving. She was frightened and stood straight up, loosing all power of speech and thought. She turned her head towards the Grotto of Massabieille and saw in the opening of the rock a rosebush, one only, moving as if it were very windy. Almost at the same time, there came out of the interior of the grotto a golden-colored cloud, and soon afterwards, a Lady, young and beautiful --exceedingly beautiful -- the likes of whom she had never seen, came and placed herself at the entrance of the opening above the rosebush. She looked at Bernadette and immediately smiled and signaled her to advance, in a way that a mother motions her child to come near. Bernadette took out her rosary and knelt before the Lady, who also had a rosary on her right arm. When Bernadette tried to begin saying the rosary by making the sign of the cross, her arm was paralyzed. It was only after the Lady had made the sign of the cross herself that Bernadette was able to do the same. As Bernadette prayed the rosary, the Lady passed the beads of her rosary between her fingers, but remained silent. She did recite the Gloria's with her, however. When the recitation of the rosary was finished, the Lady returned to the interior of the rock and the golden cloud disappeared with her.
Bernadette told her sister of the extraordinary things that had happened to her at the grotto, asking her to keep it a secret. Throughout the day the image of the Lady remained in her mind. In the evening at the family prayer Bernadette was troubled and began to cry. When her mother asked what was the matter, her sister told her everything. Bernadette's mother told her that these were illusions, and forbid her to return to Massabieille.
Bernadette could not sleep that night. The face of the Lady, so good and so gracious, returned incessantly to her memory. It was useless to recall what her mother had said because she did not believe that she had been deceived. Her conviction of this was unshakable. She went on to describe the Beautiful Lady in detail:
"She has the appearance of a young girl of sixteen or seventeen. She is dressed in a white robe, girdled at the waist with a blue ribbon which flows down all around it. A yoke closes it in graceful pleats at the base of the neck. The sleeves are long and tight-fitting. She wears upon her head a veil which is also white. This veil gives just a glimpse of her hair and then falls down at the back below her waist. Her feet are bare but covered by the last folds of her robe except at the point where a yellow rose shines upon each of them. She holds on her right arm a rosary of white beads with a chain of gold shinning like the two roses on her feet." On Sunday, Bernadette's mother allowed her to return to the grotto.
The Second Apparition - Sunday, February 14, 1858:
The three little girls started out, armed with a vial of holy water. If what their elders said was true, they might need this to ward off malign influences. Instead of throwing the water at the Lady, Bernadette poured the water quietly on the ground. Then she turned and told her companion that, judging by the Beautiful Lady's smile, She was pleased by this action. Before Jeanne Abadie, who was just arriving, could explain that she had thrown a stone for fun, the others had scattered in every direction, screaming for help as they ran. When Toinette reached the cachot (home) and poured out her story, her mother seized a switch and headed for the site. By now the whole town was talking. Fortunately for the unhappy little Bernadette, one local woman of considerable prominence interpreted the apparitions in a different light from most of the townspeople. She got Louise's permission to let her daughter Bernadette accompany her and a friend to the grotto.
The Third Apparition - Thursday, February 18, 1858:
All three went first to early Mass. Then they set out for the grotto. Madame Millet carried a blessed candle; Antoinette Peyret a pen, paper and ink to record anything that might be said. The Beautiful Lady said to Bernadette: "There is no need for me to write down what I have to say to you. Will you be so kind as to come here every day for fifteen days?" No explicit reason was given for this request, but a definite pledge accompanied it: though she did not promise that Bernadette would be happy in the world, the Beautiful Lady gave her word that happiness would be waiting in heaven.
The Fourth Apparition - Friday, February 19, 1858:
Bernadette's parents and her aunt accompanied her to the Grotto along with some neighbors. Shortly after Bernadette began to pray the Rosary, everyone present noticed that her face was transfigured and illuminated.
The Fifth Apparition - Saturday, February 20, 1858:
On Her fifth visit, the Beautiful Lady taught Bernadette a prayer, which she recited daily for the rest of her life. She never revealed the prayer to anyone, but she did say that she was told to always bring a blessed candle with her. Candles now burn perpetually at the Shrine.
The Sixth Apparition - Sunday, February 21, 1858:
The Beautiful Lady told Bernadette on this occasion to "pray for sinners", which she never failed to do. Several hundred people were present on that day, including Dr. Dozous, a prominent physician in Lourdes. He told the crowd that he could find nothing abnormal about Bernadette's physical condition, even when her mental state was trancelike: "Her pulse was regular, her respiration easy, and nothing indicated nervous excitement."
A meeting was called by the citizens of the town, and sharp differences of opinion were expressed regarding the apparitions. They expressed concern for the dangers that could accompany gatherings of such large crowds. They persuaded the Procurer Imperial, M. Dutour, to officially forbid Bernadette to return to the Grotto. Bernadette responded that she could not give her word to refrain from going to the Grotto because she had promised the Beautiful Lady she would do so. Dutour dismissed her, and discussed this matter with two local officials: M. Jacomet, the Chief of Police; and M. Estrade, who was to become Bernadette's and Dutour's friend and who was also to perform an invaluable service by listening in at future conversations and scrupulously recording them word for word.
Estrade recorded a conversation between the Chief of Police and Bernadette. During that meeting, M. Jacomet deliberately tried to confuse Bernadette to change her account of the apparitions. When that attempt failed, the Chief of Police released Bernadette to the custody of her father with an admonition that he take her home and guarantee that there would be no further disturbances. But the interior call which was urging her on was stronger than any earthly admonition.
On Monday, February 22, 1858, Bernadette returned to the Grotto after school. Two policemen saw her and followed her, and so did the usual crowd. The policemen stood at respectful attention as she knelt down in her accustomed place. But as she arose, they sprang forward and asked her if she still insisted that she had seen a Beautiful Lady. "No, this time I saw nothing at all," she answered. She was allowed to go home, but she was taunted and threatened. People said mockingly that the Beautiful Lady was afraid of the police and had found some safer place to go.
The Seventh Apparition - Tuesday, February 23, 1858:
Approximately two hundred people were present at this apparition. When Bernadette's appearance was once more transformed, the men present removed their hats and fell to their knees. Bernadette appeared to be gravely serious and listening, and then joyful, and she would occasionally bow low. At the conclusion of the vision, which lasted an hour, Bernadette moved on her knees toward the rose bush and kissed the ground. When asked what the Lady had said, Bernadette replied that the Lady had entrusted her with three secrets, which she never revealed.
The Eighth Apparition - Wednesday, February 24, 1858:
During the eighth apparition, Bernadette turned and faced the crowd of more than four hundred people, and three times she repeated, "penitence, penitence, penitence!"
The Ninth Apparition - Thursday, February 25, 1858:
During this apparition, the Beautiful Lady told Bernadette to, "drink from the fountain and bathe in it." Bernadette was puzzled; there had never been a fountain at Massabieille, or any kind of a natural spring. She began to scratch the loose gravel off the ground which encircled her. As she did so, she noticed that the ground beneath her was moist, and that a little pool was forming and bubbles were rising from it. She cupped her hands together and drank, and then washed her face. The next day, the pool was overflowing and water was dripping down over the rock. The following day, the trickle had become a real stream. Of course, it was immediately said -- and has been said by skeptics ever since -- that the spring was there all the time. The fact remains that Bernadette did find the spring as the result of a direct command.
The Tenth Apparition - Saturday, February 27, 1858:
On this occasion, the Beautiful Lady told Bernadette to "kiss the ground on behalf of sinners." She immediately did so, and the crowd followed her example.
The Eleventh Apparition - Sunday, February 28, 1858:
There were approximately two thousand spectators at the Grotto that morning. The Lady asked Bernadette to tell the clergy to build a chapel on the site of the Grotto.
The Twelfth Apparition - Monday, March 1, 1858:
During this apparition, the Lady commented to Bernadette that she was not using her own Rosary, which was an accurate statement. Bernadette had been asked by Pauline Sans to use Pauline's Rosary at the Grotto that day.
The Thirteenth Apparition - Tuesday, March 2, 1858:
Bernadette arrived at the Grotto early in the morning, prayed the Rosary in the presence of the Lady, who remained silent except for the Gloria's.
The Fourteenth Apparition - Wednesday, March 3, 1858:
During this apparition, the Lady repeated that She wanted a chapel built by the clergy and, additionally, that She wanted people to come to this chapel in processional form. Bernadette was terribly afraid of the parish priest, Abbe Peyramale. It had been difficult for her to go to him the first time about building a chapel, but it took a great deal of courage for her to present herself to him a second time about processions. He dismissed her curtly, ordering her to tell the Beautiful Lady that the Cure of Lourdes was not in the habit of dealing with mysterious strangers; that if She wanted a chapel -- if She had a right to one -- She must reveal Her identity.
The Fifteenth Apparition - Thursday, March 4, 1858:
By now, most everyone in France knew that March 4th was the last of the fifteen days that Bernadette had promised the Lady that she would be present at the Grotto. Twenty thousand people were present that day, including an entire military garrison in full-dress uniform. As Bernadette approached the apparition site, a path was cleared for her, and the soldiers who accompanied her did so with respect. After the apparition, Bernadette told the crowd that she would continue coming to the Grotto because the Beautiful Lady had said nothing in the form of a farewell. The crowd was disappointed and disillusioned. They had seen Bernadette transfigured with a strange radiance, but they had hoped to also share her vision, to hear the same voice that she did, and they expected that, at the very least, the rosebush would burst into a sudden miraculous bloom.
The Sixteenth Apparition - Thursday, March 25, 1858:
During the sixteenth apparition, which occurred on the Feast of the Annunciation, the Beautiful Lady revealed her identity to Bernadette: "Que soy era Immaculado Conception", I am the Immaculate Conception. Bernadette was not sure what this name meant, but people who needed no explanation flocked to Lourdes in greater numbers than ever before. Baron Massy, a local official, ordered Bernadette to be examined by three more physicians. They found her to be physically and mentally sound.
The Seventeenth Apparition - Wednesday, April 7, 1858:
Bernadette had never failed to bring a lighted candle to the Grotto since the first time she had been instructed to do so by the Beautiful Lady. During this apparition, she unconsciously placed one of her hands over the flame of the candle. People witnessed the flame burning through her fingers. Bernadette did not even hear the cries of horror which arose from the crowd. She continued to pray for at least fifteen minutes while the flame burned through her hand. She emerged quietly from prayer unscathed. Then Dr. Dozous took another candle and, without warning, touched the flame to her hand. Bernadette immediately cried out in pain. Shortly after this apparition, the Prefect took matters into his own hands and ordered the Grotto closed, and the rustic altar was dismantled.
The Eighteenth Apparition - Friday, July 16, 1858:
Bernadette seemed relieved that she was becoming less of a public figure. Several months had passed, and after receiving communion on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Bernadette felt an irresistible urge to return to the Grotto. Since the barricade was still in place, she and her aunt could not get as close to the sacred spot as they wanted, so they knelt in the grass, and the Beautiful Lady appeared to her one last time.
Bernardette after the apparitions
Bernadette joined the order of the Sisters of Charity. Throughout her life she remained sickly, but attended patiently to her duties as infirmarian and sacristan. She died a holy death on April 16, 1879. She was 34 years old. Bernadette was buried on the convent grounds in Nevers, France. Her body was exhumed thirty years later on September 22, 1909, in the presence of two doctors, several appointed officials, and nuns from the local convent. When Bernadette's coffin was opened, there was no odor, and her body was completely untouched by the laws of nature.
A second exhumation took place on April 3, 1919. The body of the then declared Venerable was found in the same state of preservation as ten years earlier, except that the face was slightly discolored, due to the washing it had undergone during the first exhumation. A worker in wax was entrusted with the task of coating the face of the Saint who had been dead forty years. The sacred relic (Bernadette's body) was placed in a coffin of gold and glass and can be viewed to this very day in the Chapel of Saint Bernadette at the motherhouse in Nevers, France.
Today, around the grotto, a neo-Byzantine, three-level basilica was built. Underground is another basilica, which holds 7,000 people and has a ramp for wheelchairs. The baths, the real focal point of the shrine, are small cubicles full of ice-cold water from the spring, in which the sick, some terminally ill, immerse themselves in hopes of being healed. Two hospitals, which care for but do not treat the sick, are part of the complex.
Of the 3 million individuals who come to Lourdes every year, 500,000 are sick people hoping to be cured miraculously. Recent data from the Lourdes Bureau Médical, 66 cases have officially been acknowledged as miraculous, from 1858 to nowadays; from the first case occurring a few days after the first apparition at Massabielle, to the last case, relating to Mr. Jean-Pierre Bély, acknowledged in 1999, versus an overall number of 7000 recoveries claimed. Claims of miracles must go through the study of one of the most strict group of physicians. In fact, the Lourdes National Medical Committee was established in 1947, made up by university specialists, in order for a more rigorous and independent control to better guarantee the authenticity of the possible miracles.
This committee became International (LIMC) in 1954, thus acquiring even greater authority and a universal dimensions.
At present, the Lourdes International Medical Committee (LIMC,) based in Paris, is made up by 25 members, including physicians of international renown, university professors and experienced and qualified medical practitioners, from different countries worldwide.
There must be medical proof that the sick person was indeed sick to begin with, that the symptoms disappeared within hours, and that the cure lasted for several years. The patient is examined on the spot by a medical bureau, which sends its conclusions to LIMC.
If the commission regards the cure as authentic, the report goes to a canonical commission in the diocese from which the cured person came, and the bishop makes a pronouncement on it. Only then the recovery is officially proclaimed a miracle.
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Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
The importance of the Fatima Centre’s historic Moscow Conference
There is a very special place in the Immaculate Heart of Mary for this country we call Russia. Imagine it, with her own Immaculate lips she mentioned this country by name in Her apparitions in Fatima and even in later apparitions to Sr. Lucy.
Has our Lady ever mentioned a country by name in one of her apparitions? Even if so, perhaps not so many times as she spoke the word “Russia”. That is truly amazing. Russia is very special to her. Therefore, we who love this Heavenly Queen must also love what she loves. We must be attentive to what she is attentive to. If she is attentive to Russia (and in fact we know that she is, and that she wants the Pope and all the bishops of the world to be attentive to Russia) then we also MUST be attentive to Russia.
What that means is that we need to help this country by whatever means we have. Our Lady needs our help! She asks for our help! Of course the Consecration is the most important thing that we must pray for regarding the future of Russia. Nevertheless, consider how many years the Catholic Church tried and tried to enter into this nation in order to spiritually help it, but unfortunately it was always unsuccessful. This country has been cut off and isolated from the life-giving grace of the One True Church — outside of which there is no salvation — for hundreds and hundreds of years. The Catholic faith has not been able to take root there.
Finally, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the “opening up” of Russia to the West, and the prayers and sacrifices of people faithful to the message of Fatima, we now have a better chance to concretely and spiritually help this country which our Lady loves so dearly. This is exactly what Father Gruner’s Fatima Centre has recently and quite effectively done. The prayers, efforts and sacrifices of The Fatima Centre and all those who participated in the 2017 conference in Moscow, were outstanding and tremendously edifying to say the least. How beautiful it was to see Americans, Canadians, Russians, Czechs and Swiss come together for the love of Our Lady of Fatima and for Russia! What a blessing for the 100th anniversary of Fatima!
We must be very grateful to The Fatima Centre for this event, but especially and sincerely we need to thank Our Lady of Fatima for helping us to realize this very special and historic conference. Truly her immaculate and maternal hands helped us every step of the way in order to put this conference together. We must be truly thankful to her. Finally, let us continue to pray and sacrifice for the true and full Consecration of Russia, which is so desperately needed by the world today. However, let us not only speak about the Consecration of Russia theoretically and in some way very far away from Russia.
Sometimes “Russia” can become only kind of a theoretical construct in our mind. No, there are real souls in this vast country who need our prayers and sacrifices! They are hungering and thirsting for the Truth! Let us fulfil our Christian and Catholic duty to actually PRAY for this nation so beloved by the Immaculate Heart of Mary and also for the real people who are struggling to come out of a Communistic and atheistic world. Let us support The Fatima Centre in its missionary endeavours there. We pray for the Consecration of Russia, but do we pray for the souls there? One of the beautiful things about this conference was that it brought Catholics from the West and the East together so closely. Catholics from North America and Europe worked together with actual Russian Catholics in order to spread the message of Fatima, to exchange ideas, and to plan for future activity. What a grace! What a blessing!
Let us not forget to thank all those faithful people who supported this endeavour by their prayers, sacrifices and material support. We sincerely appreciate it. Finally, let us thank Father Gruner and John Vennari for their prayers, for this conference. May they rest in peace.
Father Shane Pezzutti
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