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Our Lady of Lourdes

 

 

Feastday February 11

 

Between February 11 and July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary came down from Heaven eighteen times and showed herself at Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous, a little girl of fourteen years of age.

 

 

On February 11, while gathering wood, Bernadette heard a whistle of wind.
With astonished eyes she saw a niche in the upper part of a rock filled with golden light, and there in the midst of it stood a Lady of great beauty.

Her robe glowed with the whiteness of snow in the sunshine
and swept in majestic folds to the ground.

Her head and shoulders were framed by a white veil, which fell the full length of her robe. A blue sash encircled her waist, and its two ends, wide and unornamented,
reached down in front almost to her feet.

Each of her feet bore a rose of purest gold.

A rosary, whose beads were white and whose cross and chain were of gold,
hung from her right arm. Her hands were open, and her arms outstretched slightly in front. In her apparitions our Lady appealed for penance and prayers for sinners.

 

 

 

 

On March 25, the feast of the Annunciation,
the Blessed Mother declared her name to Bernadette and to the world.

On that day Bernadette made this request:
"My Lady, would you be so kind as to tell me who you are?"

This is how Bernadette describes what happened in that last apparition:

"Three times I asked the Apparition her name.

At the third instance, she stretched out her hands,

which until then she held joined, raised them, and she said:

'I am the Immaculate Conception.'

Then having completed her great message to the world,
the Lady smiled on Bernadette and withdrew without further word of farewell.

Less than four years before these apparitions, on December 8, 1854,
Pope Pius IX proclaimed that Mary in the first instant of her conception
was preserved free from all stain of original sin through the merits of her Divine Son.

At Lourdes the Virgin Mary had come to confirm the infallible utterance
of God's Vicar on earth and declared herself not only immaculately conceived,
but "The Immaculate Conception."

 

 On October 30, 1867, Bernadette made her religious profession
in the Convent of the Congregation of the Sisters of Nevers, France.

In January, 1873, Bernadette became ill.

On April 16, about three in the afternoon, Bernadette prayed:

"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, a poor sinner!"

She made a Sign of the Cross, took the glass that was handed to her,
twice swallowed a few drops of water, and then bending her head gently
gave up her soul to her Creator.

Bernadette died, worn out with physical suffering, on April 16, 1879, at the age of thirty-six.

Now her incorrupt body can be seen as she lay in death
in the side chapel of the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity at Nevers,
where she lived and died as Sister Marie Bernard.

Thirty years after her death her body was found in a perfect state of preservation,
undoubtedly a token of love of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

She was beatified in 1925, and on December 8, 1933, she was canonized
by Pope Pius XI.

 

Yearly from March to October the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes
or the Domain (as it is most commonly known) is the place of mass pilgrimages from Europe and other parts of the world.
The spring water from the grotto is believed to possess healing properties,
however there have been from the beginning skeptics of the miracles reported to have taken place in Lourdes.
A common misconception is that miracles are the core of the Sanctuary of Lourdes,
and the reasons for visits. Although this is probably the case for some visitors,
the majority of pilgrims come as part of their Christian faith, and to help those in need. An estimated 200 million people have visited the shrine since 1860,
and the Church has officially recognized 68 miracle healings.

 

 

 

Mary, Mother of God, I firmly believe in the doctrine of Holy Mother Church
concerning your Immaculate Conception: namely, that you were,
in the first instant of your conception, by the singular grace and privilege of God,
in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race,
preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

Alone of all the children of Adam, you were gifted with the fullness of sanctifying grace
that made you the object of a very special love on the part of God.
How wonderful were the workings of Divine power to make you a fitting dwelling
for the Redeemer of the world! With no tendency to evil, but with a deep yearning
for the highest virtue, you glorified God more than all His other creatures.
At the very instant of your conception your mind was filled with the light of God,
and your will was entirely conformed to the Divine Will.
You were always intimately united with God.

I thank God with you for these wonderful blessings.
Help me to imitate your holiness to some degree. Your holiness was not the result
of the privilege of your Immaculate Conception and sanctifying grace alone,
but followed from your gift of yourself to God
and your constant cooperation with His graces.
Help me to be generous with God by turning to good account
the graces that He ever bestows on me, and by rising promptly when I fall,
with renewed confidence in His Mercy.

Ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, health of the sick, refuge of sinners,
comfort of the afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings.
Deign to cast upon me a look of mercy.

By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary,

from which you dispense your favors; and already many sufferers have obtained
the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal.
I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence
to implore your maternal intercession.

Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for your favors,
I will endeavor to imitate your virtues that I may one day share your glory.

Through your loving compassion shown to thousands of pilgrims who come to your shrine
at Lourdes, and through your special love for your devoted client Bernadette,
I ask for this grace if it be the Will of God: (Mention your request).

Our Lady of Lourdes, aid me through your prayer with your Divine Son,
to be a true child of yours, as Bernadette was, and to grow daily into your likeness.


Prayer to Saint Bernadette

Saint Bernadette, little shepherdess of Lourdes,
favored with eighteen apparitions of the Immaculate Virgin Mary
and with the privilege of lovingly conversing with her,
now that you are eternally enjoying
the entrancing beauty of the Immaculate Mother of God,
do not forsake me, your devoted client, who am still in this valley of tears.

Intercede for me that I, too, may walk the simple path of faith.
Help me to imitate your example, at our heavenly Queen's request,
by saying the Rosary daily and by doing penance for sinners.

Teach me to imitate your wonderful devotedness to God and our Lady,
the Immaculate Conception, so that, like you, I may be blessed with
the grace of lasting faithfulness and enjoy the happiness in heaven
of the eternal vision of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Concluding Novena Prayer

God of infinite mercy, we celebrate the feast of Mary,
Our Lady of Lourdes, the sinless Mother of God.
May her prayers help us to rise above our human weakness.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever.

Amen.