Notre-Dame de Lourdes, Lourdes, Hautes-Pyrénées, Midi-Pyrénées France
|On February 11, 1858, Bernadette Soubirous, 14, went to
gather firewood with her younger sister and a friend. When they came to
the canal near the River Gave, the other girls waded through, but
Bernadette stopped to take off her stockings. As she told the police chief
ten days later, "I heard a very loud noise in the hedge above
Massabielle Grotto; I looked that way and I saw the bushes moving, and
behind them something white; I looked a moment, then I knelt and prayed;
That One smiled at me and vanished into the Grotto."
Over the next five months, Bernadette saw the lady she called simply
That One ("Aquerò") at the Grotto 17 times more, accompanied by
ever more onlookers as word spread. No one else saw the apparition, but
many were convinced by the girl's radiant, angelic countenance while in
On February 25, "She told me to go, drink of the spring."
That One indicated some bare ground near the grotto. Bernadette dug there
with her hands. "But there 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." The 300 witnesses were disconcerted to see the angelic face
covered with mud and grass.
On March 1, Bernadette's friend Catherine Latapie regained the use of
her dislocated arm after plunging it into the spring, now a torrent. It
was the first of the many healings at Lourdes.
|On March 25, Bernadette asked the Lady's
identity. "She lifted up her eyes to heaven, joined her hands as
though in prayer, … and said to me, 'Que soy era Immaculada Concepciou,'"
incorporating into the uneducated girl's Pyreneen dialect the terminology
of the papal dogma issued four years before: "I am the Immaculate
St. Bernadette became a Sister of Charity of Nevers, where her
incorrupt body is now enshrined.
Our Lady of Lourdes became the major Marian devotion of the next
century, beloved as a source of spiritual and physical healing, a beacon
of faith. The image of Mary as Bernadette saw her -- standing, hands
folded in prayer, a long white veil over her head, a long blue sash
hanging from the waist of her white gown and a long white rosary from her
arm -- has been reproduced around the world in every country where
Catholics have had a presence, and even the Grotto itself (Philippines,
The Catholic Church celebrates February 11 as her feast day, though in
Lourdes, the biggest pilgrimage is on the feast of the Assumption, August
Shrine's site: www.lourdes-france.org.
(Information also from Maximilien-M. François, "Sainte Bernadette et
07-02-2007 and other sources. Picture of grotto statue from Aude Siao-Ling
Marie (Samia) 1994-2004, www.aude-samia.org.)
Also commemorated this date:
|Nuestra Señora de la Corteza, Acarigua, Portuguesa, Venezuela. Image
appeared in the bark of a tree, 1702.|