“For those who believe, no explanation is necessary.
For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.”
― Franz Werfel, The Song of Bernadette
Lourdes and St. Bernadette Soubirous
The story of the 14-year-old girl, gathering wood with her sister and a friend, gives us a moment to pause in our day today, as we continue to pray for the sick and for caregivers. St. Bernadette Soubirous was faithful in her mission, humble in glory, and valiant in her sufferings. On February 11, 1858, in the very innocent act of taking off her shoes and socks to wade in the water, Bernadette said she heard the sound of two gusts of wind, but the trees and bushes were not moving. As she looked around herself, Bernadette did see a wild rose swaying back and forth in a grotto near where she was standing.
“…I came back towards the grotto and started taking off my stockings. I had hardly taken off the first stocking when I heard a sound like a gust of wind. Then I turned my head towards the meadow. I saw the trees quite still: I went on taking off my stockings. I heard the same sound again. As I raised my head to look at 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; the beads of the rosary were white…. From the niche, or rather the dark alcove behind it, came a dazzling light…”
And so begins and unfolds the story of St. Bernardette Soubrious. Today more than 3 millions visitors (pilgrims and tourists) visit the Grotto of Massabielle (France), where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernardette 18 times in 1858. During the apparition on March 25, the woman dressed in white, identified herself with the words “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
People have journeyed to Lourdes I droves to seek the healing power of Mary. By 1862 the apparitions and visions were confirmed and in 1907 the Feast of the Lady of Lourdes was recognized worldwide.
Lourdes is a place of pilgrimage and healing, and even more, or faith. Over 60 miraculous cures have been recognized by Church authorities, though there have probably been many more. To people of faith this is not surprising. It is a continuation of Jesus’ healing miracles – now performed by the intercession of his mother, Mary.
St. Pope John Paul II named February 11 “World Day of the Sick” in 1992 as a way for believers to offer prayers for those suffering from illness. It is intentional that the day coincides with the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Together we pray,
Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings Deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.
By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, whence you dispense your favors, and already many have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and physical. We come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. Obtain for us, O loving Mother, the granting of our request
(name your request)
Through gratitude for your favors, we will endeavor to imitate your virtues, that we may one day share your glory.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your divine son while upon earth. You have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us; obtain for us from your Divine Son our special requests if it be the Divine Will. Amen.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.