Our Lady of Lourdes

Our Lady of Lourdes

In the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1854. Bernadette Soubirous, a 14 year old French girl, saw a young lady on February 11, 1858, a little over three years later. This was the first of the 18 appearances made by the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Francois and Louise, who both worked at a mill owned by Francois, welcomed Bernadette into the world as their first child in January 1844. Their family had a lovely yet challenging life. As a child, Bernadette lost a lot of siblings, and she also suffered asthma. In 1854, their father's injury and financial difficulties caused them to lose the mill.

Following were years of destitution, during which Bernadette frequently had to live apart from her parents and choose to work rather than go to school. She went back to her family in January 1858, when they were residing in a small single room. Despite having no formal education, Bernadette was devoted to her faith and tried to understand the teachings of the Church.

Bernadette, together with her sister and a friend, went to gather firewood on February 11, 1858. As she neared a grotto beside a river, she noticed a light shining near a rosebush. The light engulfed a woman dressed in white and holding a rosary. When Bernadette saw the woman make the sign of the cross, she knelt, pulled out her own rosary, and started to pray. The woman gestured for her to come closer when she had finished her prayer. However, she stayed motionless, and the vision vanished.

Her friends had not witnessed anything. Bernadette told them about the woman and insisted that they keep it a secret. Later that day, though, the secret was revealed. When Bernadette went back to the grotto the following Sunday, she saw the woman once more.

On February 18, when she made her third trip, Bernadette was joined by a few adults, but they did not see the vision she saw. The child was urged to return in two weeks by the woman dressed in white. A group of family members and others accompanied her to the cave the next day, but only the young peasant girl saw the woman and heard her words.

The crowd at the cave grew to about 100 over the course of the following few days. Father Peyramale, the parish priest, and the police both got concerned. While 250 witnesses witnessed Bernadette cry on February 24, only she heard the woman's message: "Penance! Penance! Penance! Pray to God for sinners. Go, kiss the ground for the conversion of sinners.”

On February 25, there was a larger audience, and they were taken aback when they saw Bernadette eating weeds and drinking from a dirty stream. The vision had instructed her to drink the water, and the weed-eating was a penitential gesture. Meanwhile, the girl's peculiar behavior was all that observers perceived, and the general interest gave way to mockery and mistrust.

Bernadette was overjoyed to learn on February 27 that the spring she was drinking from was suddenly clear rather than muddy. This shift was noticed as the crowds grew, and a woman with a paralyzed arm approached the water in the hopes of receiving healing. Her case would be acknowledged as the first miracle healing at Lourdes four years later. As the public's attention grew, Bernadette perceived a recurrent message from the vision: "Go, tell the priests to bring people here in procession and have a chapel built here.”

Bernadette did not assert that she knew the identity of the woman she was seeing, despite the fact that many were eager to draw the conclusion that she was seeing the Virgin Mary. As Bernadette repeated the message to Fr. Peyramale, he became agitated and urged her to ask the woman her name. However, when she did so, the woman just smiled and kept silent.

Bernadette returned to the cave on the Feast of the Annunciation, three weeks later. She kept inquiring about the woman's identity whenever she saw her. Finally, the woman folded her hands, looked up, and announced, "I am the Immaculate Conception." The pious but illiterate seer was unaware of the meaning of these words. She told Fr. Peyramale about them, and he was astounded and told his bishop.

Bernadette saw the Blessed Virgin Mary twice more in 1858, on the Wednesday following Easter and on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The local bishop deemed the apparitions credible in 1862.

After leaving Lourdes in 1866 to join a Catholic order in central France, St. Bernadette passed away in 1879 following a protracted illness. By the time of her passing, Fr. Peyramale had led the construction and consecration of a basilica at the site of the apparition. In 1907, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes spread throughout the world.

Numerous individuals claim that prayer, pilgrimages, and the water from a spring that Bernadette was directed to by the Blessed Virgin have healed them of various ailments. Since 1862, 69 incidents of miraculous healing at Lourdes have been confirmed by experts. Mary restored and still restores millions of people's faith through that meek girl.

Other Saints of the Day
Saint Severinus
Saint Desiderius
Saint Ardanus
Saint Benedict of Aniane
Saint Adolf of Osnabruck

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