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!
The Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Bernadette eighteen times, bringing a message of prayer, penance, poverty, and participation. She said, “Penance. Penance. Penance. Pray for Sinners.” She picked the most humble of messengers, truly showing that we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord. Between today and July 16, we will continue our journey with Saint Bernadette as we encounter Our Blessed Mother through her eyes, memories, and words.
On February 19, Bernadette returned to the grotto at Massabielle, as she had promised the beautiful lady she would. Our Blessed Lady of Lourdes appeared for the fourth time on that day, having appeared previously on February 11, February 14, and February 18. During those initial visitations, the Blessed Virgin smiled and prayed with Bernadette. During the previous visitation, she had spoken, inquiring as to whether Bernadette would visit the grotto each day for 15 days, and telling her, “I do not promise to make you happy in this life, but in the other.”
During the visitation of Our Lady of Lourdes on February 19, she again remained silent, praying the Rosary with Bernadette, but not speaking to her. Instead, Bernadette was graced with the gentle smile and feeling of peace she remembered from previous visions.
Bernadette would continue to visit the grotto for the next 14 days in a row, during that time, receiving the important message of Lourdes- a message that is from the heart of Our Blessed Mother. During the third apparition, when the beautiful lady explains to Saint Bernadette, “What I have to say does not need to be written down,” she is inviting Bernadette to enter into a personal relationship from the heart, the very center and depth of her message of love, respect, and human dignity.
O Immaculate Virgin Mary,
you are the refuge of sinners,
the health of the sick,
and the comfort of the afflicted.
By your appearances at the Grotto of Lourdes
you made it a privileged sanctuary
where your favors are given to people streaming to it from the whole world.
Over the years countless sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities,
whether of soul, mind, or body.
Therefore I come with limitless confidence
to implore your motherly intercession.
Loving Mother, obtain the grant of my requests.
Let me strive to imitate your virtues on earth
so that I may one day share your glory in heaven.
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."