Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at the grotto in Lourdes for the eleventh time. Beginning on February 11, The Blessed Virgin had been appearing to Bernadette Soubirous, each time bringing a message of prayer, penance, poverty, and participation. Through these posts, we continue our journey with Saint Bernadette as we encounter Our Blessed Mother through her eyes, memories, and words. During the previous nine visitations (February 11, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, and 27) the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Lourdes, communicated the message of Lourdes to all mankind, through Saint Bernadette. She implored us, saying, “Penance, Penance, Penance. Pray to God for sinners.” Our Blessed Mother further invited Bernadette to drink and bathe in the muddy water of the grotto, after which a clear flowing spring came forth where none had existed before. Our Lady of Lourdes commanded, “Go drink in the spring and wash yourself there,” something that faithful pilgrims continue to do each day. (For personal reflections on my experience at Lourdes, see here and here).
aquero had remained silent, smiled at Bernadette’s acts of penance, and prayed the Rosary with her.
During the eleventh visitation, Our Blessed Mother repeated her instructions to pray for sinners, and to offer acts of penance to God for their salvation. As typical, Bernadette carried a lighted blessed candle with her, knelt in prayer before a crowd nearing 1,000 curious onlookers, and repeated her seemingly bizarre (to those observing) acts of penance. The spring, which had only appeared days before, continued to flow strong and pure and clear.
Our Blessed Mother would appear to Bernadette seven more times at the grotto at Massabielle, each time more and more people accompanying Bernadette, hoping to catch a glimpse of the beautiful lady she referred to. Given the crowds, the local priests and religious would soon be forced to get involved, whereas previously they had observed hoping to have the apparitions discredited. Our Lady would also soon make a request of the community, one which would ensure continued devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes, and continued propagation of the message of Lourdes.
Saint Bernadette, you always enjoyed serving others.
In February 1858, the Blessed Virgin appeared to you when you were gathering wood.
Among your sisters, you have learned to treat the sick and those in need.
Later, in Nevers, you were an excellent nurse, offering an attentive and intelligent charity.
Saint Bernadette, Like Mary, who saw the family’s needs in Cana, inspire in me the same generosity and the same faith that you see in Christ.
Lord, you have given us brothers and sisters to love. We pray that our eyes, our hands, and our hearts are open to all those that you put in our way. Amen.
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."