Every year, 8 million people make the pilgrimage to the Pyrenees Mountain region of France, to a town called Lourdes. After Rome and the Holy Land, Lourdes is the place most traveled to by Catholics!
They go to visit the grotto of Massabielle, and drink from the Holy Spring, to receive cures for their ailments. Over 70 miracles have been attributed to the water, for which the Holy See can find no earthly explanation.
Who was Bernadette Soubirous?
Born January 7, 1844, Bernadette was only 14 years old when Mary first appeared to her. Bernadette was the eldest of nine children. She was a sickly child and very small in stature.
Like many other children who have seen Our Blessed Mother, Bernadette would be considered a poor, peasant child. France had undergone hard times, and at the time of the apparitions, her family had been living in extreme poverty.
What did Bernadette see?
On February 11, 1858, Bernadette went out to gather firewood near the grotto with one of her sisters and a friend. As she was taking off her stockings to cross a stream, Bernadette heard the sound of the wind gusting, but saw only a wild rose in the grotto moving. The niche of the grotto then glowed with wondrous light and a figure of a lady appeared. Saint Bernadette said of the vision, “I raised my head and looked towards the grotto. I saw a Lady dressed in white, wearing a white dress, a blue girdle, and a yellow rose on each foot, the same color as the chain of her Rosary.”
Between that first meeting and their last on July 16, 1858, Bernadette had seen Our Blessed Mother eighteen times. On February 25th, the Virgin revealed the spring and asked Bernadette to drink and to wash in it. The Blessed Virgin also asked her to pray for the conversion of sinners and to build a chapel on the grounds.
One of the most important apparitions occurred on March 25th, on the Feast of the Annunciation. At this meeting, the Virgin told Saint Bernadette that she was the Immaculate Conception. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception had only been proclaimed in 1854, and this apparition gave confirmation of Our Lady’s most Blessed title.
Have you been to Lourdes?
In 1862, the Catholic Church confirmed that the visions at Lourdes are authentic. The water has been studied and has been deemed potable. It is made up of various minerals, but nothing specific about the water is notable. However, Saint Bernadette herself said that “faith” was the ingredient that made the water work.
The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is on February 11th. To celebrate, pray the rosary or gift others items with imagery of Our Blessed Mother.
Have you ever been to Lourdes? Or is a trip there on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments.