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!
March 3 marks the anniversary of the fourteenth apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous. In 1858, Our Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Bernadette at the grotto in Lourdes eighteen times, 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. The first thirteen visitations occurred in February and March 1858 (February 11, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, and March 1 and 2). 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, here, and here).
Bernadette returned home, but later that evening felt the strong urge drawing her back to the grotto. She returned and was graced by the appearance of the Blessed Virgin. Afters she finished praying the Rosary and her acts of penance, Bernadette asked aquero her name. In her own words: “The next day when I arrived at the Grotto, after having recited the Rosary, I told her that Monsieur le Cure would like to know her name, but she only smiled. When I went back to town, I went to see Monsieur le Cure and I told him that I had done what he had asked me to do, but that her only response was a smile. He said that she was making fun of me and I would do well not to go back again; however, I could not keep myself from going back. I returned for fifteen days, and each time I asked her who she was, which always made her smile.”
Bernadette would return the next day, March 4, the final day of the original 15-day promise she made to aquero. She would be accompanied by more that 7,000 people, the news of the apparitions having spread even further. Despite the number of people present, few believed her story. Bernadette withstood this doubt with confidence and grace beyond her years, gifts bestowed upon her by the Lord.
O Brilliant star of purity,
Our Lady of Lourdes,
triumphant in your coronation,
show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God.
Queen and Mother,
be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.
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."