On March 4, 1858, Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to Saint Bernadette for the fifteenth time, marking the end of the original promise Bernadette made to return to the grotto every day for a fortnight. Throughout the first fifteen visitations, the Blessed Virgin brought a message of prayer, penance, poverty, and participation to all people, through the most unlikely of messengers, Bernadette Soubirous. Through these posts, we continue our journey with Saint Bernadette as we encounter Our Blessed Mother through her eyes, memories, and words. The first fourteen visitations occurred in February and March 1858 (February 11, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, and March 1, 2, and 3). Our Lady of Lourdes implored us all, 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 to the grotto on March 4, the last day of the fortnight she had promised to aquero, and was surprised to find a crowd of 7,000 people waiting to see what would happen. As she knelt in the grotto praying her Rosary, lit blessed candle burning in her hand, the Blessed Mother appeared. Bernadette finished her Rosary, kissed the ground as penance for sinner, drank and washed in the spring, and only then dared asked the beautiful lady for her name. Again, the Blessed Mother simply smiled in return, a lovely, peaceful smile. Bernadette requested that the rosebush be made to bloom, receiving a similar smile. And then the lady disappeared, without a miracle, without a great sign, without the proof requested by Father Payramale.
aquero, she reported not feeling the urge and longing to return to the grotto. Instead, she focused her attention on preparing for her First Communion, struggling to learn the Catechism. Father Payramale, believing that her childish foolishness was behind her, gratefully instructed her.
It would not be until the 25th of March, on the feast of the Annunciation, that Bernadette would be drawn back to the grotto. On that day, Our Blessed Mother revealed her true identity to Bernadette, removing any doubt of the miraculous occurrences at Lourdes.
With you, Bernadette
With you, Bernadette, we will go to our rendez-vous at Massabielle to contemplate Mary “full of grace,” and to hear her say to us, “Do what He tell you!”
With you, Bernadette, we will reply, “I promise to do so.”
With you, Bernadette, we wish to hear again the call to penance, take the road to conversion, and live in evangelical poverty.
With you, Bernadette, we wish to live in humility.
Saint Bernadette, teach us the way of penance.
With you, Bernadette, “crushed like a grain of wheat” we will take up our cross.
We unite our hearts to Jesus’ Passion as we say, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, poor sinners.”
Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!
Saint Bernadette, pray for us!
(Father Michel Baute, Chaplin, Our Lady of Lourdes)