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.