We continue our re-publishing of previous posts chronicling the miraculous unfolding of events that took place at Lourdes in 1858. For an introduction to the series, see here. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!
February 27 marks the anniversary of the tenth apparition of Our Blessed Mother to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at the grotto in Lourdes. Beginning on February 11, 1858, The Blessed Virgin appeared to Bernadette Soubirous a total of 18 times 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, and 25) 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 on personal pilgrimages.
Following the ninth visitation of Mary on the 25th of February, Bernadette’s mother and aunts took her home, embarrassed by her antics—crawling on the ground like an animal, kissing the dirt for sinners, drinking muddy water and smearing it on her face. Saint Bernadette’s behavior had also raised the suspicion and ire of the local authorities. She was brought in for questioning by the imperial prosecutor, who again threatened her with jail if she refused to recant her story and stay away from the grotto at Massabielle. While Bernadette’s mother was clearly shaken by the encounter with the grand prosecutor, Bernadette remained calm and consistent, refusing both orders. Rather than jail the child, the prosecutor sent her home.
Nonetheless, Saint Bernadette came back to the grotto the following day, honoring her promise to aquero, and was graced by a visitation. Our Blessed Mother said nothing, but silently prayed with Bernadette, and smiled her gentle smile, encouraging Bernadette to continue her acts of penance. Upon completion of the Rosary, Our Blessed Lady of Lourdes disappeared, and Bernadette returned home filled with peace.
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."