Faith for the Journey of Life

My Thoughts on Faith, Life, and 2,000+ Years of Catholicism / Christianity

06 February 2007

Our Lady of Lourdes

Sunday, 11 February, marks the occasion of Our Blessed Mother's first appearance to St. Bernadette in the Grotto at Lourdes, France in 1858. The story of Lourdes is well known in our Catholic faith. Our Mother's appearance at Lourdes and the miracles associated with her and Jesus are amongst the great treasures that God has blessed our Church with.

On that fateful Sunday in 1858, St. Bernadette was gathering firewood for her family when Our Blessed Mother entered into her life in a most powerful way. During this and the several following appearances, St. Bernadette did not know who this mysterious woman was. Over the next several months, Our Blessed Mother appeared periodically to St. Bernadette. Local authorities harassed and tried to suppress St. Bernadette but no avail; her faith would not be deterred.

After the appearances began, so, too, did the miracles. On one occasion, Mary revealed a miraculous spring that faithful pilgrims that have journeyed to ever since. On another occasion, Our Blessed Mother spoke the words "I am the Immaculate Conception," and in doing so, confirmed this dogma that had been defined by Pope Pius IX just a couple years prior.

"Everything about Mary directs us to her Son, our only Saviour, in anticipation of whose merits she was immaculate and full of grace," wrote Pope Pius XII in his 1957 encyclical Le Pelerinage de Lourdes. "Everything about Mary raise us to praise of the adorable Trinity; and so it was that Bernadette, praying her rosary before the grotto, learned from the words and bearing of the Blessed Virgin how she should give glory to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

Lourdes is notable for its miraculous spring, its miraculous healings, its Grotto and the vast crowds of pilgrims who journey there each year. Lourdes should also serve as a powerful reminder of the great miracle of God's love. For in sending Mary to St. Bernadette - a humble, poor peasant girl in an obscure corner of France, God has shown us yet again that His love makes no distinctions based upon economic status, social class, gender, nationality or any of the other divisions that we humans erect between ourselves and others.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!