Our Lady of Lourdes
The first of the eighteen apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the humble Bernadette Soubirous took place at Lourdes on February 11, 1858.
On March 25th, when Bernadette asked the beautiful Lady Her name, She replied: I am the Immaculate Conception.
The Church for long centuries had believed in Her Immaculate Conception, Her exemption from every trace of the original sin which through Adam, our first and common father, separated man from his God.
It was never proclaimed a dogma, however, until 1854.
In the fourth year after the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, when a certain girl named Bernadette asserted that she had seen the Immaculate Mother of God many times in a rock cavern, on the banks of the river Gave, near the town of Lourdes, in the diocese of Tarbes, in France, so many and great wonders took place that every prudent and devoted follower of Christ could easily know that the finger of God was there.
The most famous among these is that sick people who took the water from a spring that had miraculously originated in the grotto were ever so often restored to health.
Reports of the favors which the faithful were said to have received in the sacred grotto had become very widespread, and with the gathering of people increasing daily, the Bishop of Tarbes, after a juridical inquiry into the facts, permitted the religious veneration of this Immaculate Virgin to be held in the grotto itself.
Before long a church was built, and innumerable crowds of the faithful have come there every year, and in time the name of the Immaculate Mother of God has become renowned everywhere in the world; the more so each year, as the procession of the most blessed Sacrament takes place, during which some of the sick who are brought there from all parts of the world seeking health from God through the intercession of his Immaculate Mother, grow well.
Because of all this, Pope Pius X officially extended to the Universal Church this feast which Leo XIII had permitted to be celebrated only in certain places.
Mary Herself, in 1830, had asked of a Vincentian Sister at the Rue du Bac in Paris, that a medal be struck bearing Her likeness and the inscription: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.
Our Lady by Her apparitions at Lourdes in 1858 seems to convey Her appreciation for the formal proclamation of Her great privilege, by Pius IX, in 1854.
Countless and magnificent miracles of healing have occurred at Lourdes, confirmed by physicians and recorded in the Lourdes shrine Book of Life.
To name but one: a doctor wrote a book describing the great miracle he had witnessed for a dying girl, whom he had observed on the train that was carrying handicapped persons from Paris to Lourdes.
He had not expected her to survive and return home from the sanctuary.
Through the Lourdes Apparitions, the devotion of persons in all parts of the world to the Immaculate Mother of God has been wonderfully spread, and countless miracles have been wrought everywhere through Her intercession.
The Virgin Mother of God is truly the chosen Messenger of God to these latter times, which are entrusted to Her, the chosen vessel of the unique privilege of exemption from original sin.
Only with Her assistance will the dangers of the present world situation be averted.
As She has done since 1858 in many places, at Lourdes, too, She gave us Her peace plan for the world, through Saint Bernadette: Prayer and Penance, to save souls.
(SOURCE: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).)