The feast day of February 11th which celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is this Sunday, we have the Traditional Feast day of St. Bernadette which is February 18th coming up as well. Therefore, we can put the two together and present the beautiful story of Lourdes in this article. Lourdes is justly regarded as the most important place of Catholic pilgrimage in the world after the Holy Land and Rome. It comprises four magnificent basilicas and the grotto marking the exact spot where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette.
In 1858, in the grotto of Massabielle, near Lourdes in southern France, Our Lady appeared 18 times to Bernadette Soubirous, a young peasant girl, starting on Feb. 11 through July 16th. She began by praying the Rosary with Bernadette (only Bernadette prayed the Hail Marys). She asked that penance be done and told Bernadette that She did not promise her happiness in this life – only in the next. She told her to drink from a fountain in the grotto, where we now have a spring of miraculous water for all the Church to benefit. She revealed Herself as the Immaculate Conception on March 25th and asked that a chapel be built on the site of the vision. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception had just been given to the Church by Pope Pius IX just four years prior in 1854. We may conclude that this apparition helped the faithful to accept the True Teachings of Mother Church.
In 1866 the first Mass was offered at the grotto, and on the Feast of the Assumption in 1871 the newly built Church of the Immaculate Conception was blessed. The following year was the first national pilgrimage, with flags and banners and a torchlight procession. In 1873 the Assumption Fathers organized a much larger pilgrimage and a year later the first visitors came from abroad, particularly from Belgium and the USA. The statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was crowned in 1876 and the second of four great basilicas, the Church of the Rosary, was opened in 1889. On March 25, 1958, the centenary of the apparitions, the Basilica of St. Pius X was consecrated.
There have been over five thousand cures which have taken place. Sixty-five of these cures have been officially designated 'miraculous' by the Church.
St. Bernadette’s life was one of penance and prayer. She endured sufferings in body, mind and soul. Our Lady warned her that this would be, but that she would be rewarded in Heaven. Bernadette’s life is an example for us. We must understand that to live in imitation of Jesus and Mary, we too must take up our cross. It is difficult in a world of comfort and pleasures to seek penance and prayer. We ask ourselves – for what? We may reply, that is for saints such as St. Bernadette. This is not true. We are all called to be great saints. Do we not want to comfort the Hearts of Jesus and Mary with our diligent attentiveness to the needs of the world? Do we not want peace and holiness to reign in the hearts of all men? Then, we are all called to do our part. This message is not just for Bernadette. If we truly love Jesus and Mary, we will kneel before them and offer our prayers of love and self-sacrifice. Of course, living in this world, we all have our sufferings but we must learn to accept them as little crosses to gain great merit. We must offer them to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary as Bernadette did in order to make reparation for the many sins that are being committed today. Do we have members in our family that have fallen away from the Faith? Do we have members in our family that are persisting in sin? The answer is prayer and there are many promises to those who pray the Rosary.
Below are the promises given to St. Dominic for those who pray the Rosary.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. St. Bernadette, pray for us.
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Bernadette Porter is a Traditional Catholic, a wife of 42 years with 6 adult home-schooled children and 6 grandchildren. A sincere devotion to Mary, the Mother of God leads me to want to share "The Church's best kept secret" - Mary!