|Devotion to Our Lady||
THE BASIC FACTS
Our Lady's Apparitions
The apparitions began after the start of Lent in 1858, the first one being just over a week after Ash Wednesday, on the Thursday of the first week in Lent, February 11th.
1st : Thursday, February 11th
2nd : Sunday, February 14th
3rd : Thursday, February 18th
4th : Friday, February 19th
5th : Saturday, February 20th
6th : Sunday, February 21st
7th : Tuesday, February 23rd
8th : Wednesday, February 24th
9th : Thursday, February 25th
10th : Saturday, February 27th
11th : Sunday, February 28th
12th : Monday, March 1st
13th : Tuesday, March 2nd
14th : Wednesday, March 3rd
15th : Thursday, March 4th
16th : Thursday, March 25th
17th : Saturday, April 17th
18th : Friday, July 16th
The famous town of Lourdes is situated in the Southwest of the Hautes-Pyrénées department, lying in the first Pyrenean foothills. It is overlooked from the south by the Pyrenean mountain peaks of Aneto, Montaigu, Vignemale (10,000 ft), while around the town there are three summits reaching up too 3,300 ft, which are known as the Béout, the Petit Jer with its three crosses and the Grand Jer with its single cross which guard over the town lying below.
Lourdes in located at the southernmost tip of France, just over 500 miles from the capital, Paris, and a mere 30 miles or so north of France's border with Spain.
Lourdes was originally a small unremarkable market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees. At that time the most prominent feature was the fortified castle which rises up from the centre of the town on a rocky escarpment. Following the Apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette, Lourdes has developed into a major tourist destination as a Marian city.
The modern-day population, according to the most recent census, is just over 17,000 people, but over 5 million tourists come to Lourdes each year.
Lourdes has the second greatest number of hotels in France after Paris with some 270 establishments.
Our Lady did not say anything until her third apparition. Here are the words spoken by Our Lady at Lourdes, during her eighteen apparitions. It is extraordinary, considering its importance, how little was said at Lourdes by Mary, that was meant for public knowledge. She did however reveal many things privately to Bernadette, which she was not allowed to divulge but had to keep them a secret. Her words could certainly be contained on a single side of notepaper.
"It is not necessary." (On being offered pen and paper by Bernadette and asked to write down what she wanted)
"Would you have the graciousness to come here for fifteen days?"
"I do not promise you happiness in this world, but in the next."
"Pray for sinners."
"Go drink at the spring and wash yourself in it."
"Penance! Penance! Penance!"
"Kiss the ground as a penance for sinners."
"You will tell the priests to have a chapel built here."
A reiteration of the request for a chapel and a further one that people should come to the grotto in procession. Mary explained to Bernadette why she had not seen her because, "there were people here who wanted to see your face in my presence, and they were unworthy of it. They spent the night at the Grotto and profaned it."
"I am the Immaculate Conception."
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR US
1. Lourdes is first and foremost a CALL TO PRAYER AND PENANCE. Sin can damage your spiritual health and bring fatal consequences.
2. Yet with God, there is always a REMEDY available, even for the worst possible scenario, because God is omnipotent, He is all powerful.
3. The REMEDY that God offers us is twofold: (a) The Holy Rosary (b) Penances and (c) devotion to the Devotion to Mary.
4. However, REMEDIES will only work IF THEY ARE TAKEN AS INSTRUCTED.
5. In sickness and disease, normal nutrition or maintenance medicine is insufficient to battle a dangerous illness or disease. Large doses and frequent doses are required, and even intensive care is sometimes needed.
We will publish accounts of several miracles of Lourdes in the days following the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Check our QUICK-GUIDE section in forthcoming days.
There have been 69 miracles officially accepted by the investigative doctors of Lourdes since 1858. The most recent one was said to have occurred in 1989 and was only just recently (2013) added to the official list of miracles.
An Italian woman who suffered from severe hypertension was cured after visiting Lourdes in 1989, the 69th such miracle to take place at Lourdes. There had been no officially accepted miracles since the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. Now, in 2012 and 2013, they have added two more to that count.
Giovanni Giudici, bishop of Pavia, Italy, where Danila Castelli lives, recognized the event as a miracle last month, but tragic 2013 flooding that took place at Lourdes prevented the Lourdes sanctuary from publishing the news earlier.
Born in January 1946, Castelli started suffering from spontaneous and serious hypertensive crises (sudden, brutal rises in blood pressure) when she was aged 34, according to the Lourdes website.
Tests detected several problems, including a tumor that secretes high amounts of catecholamines (hormones such as adrenalin or dopamine) in her urogenital system. She was operated on several times without any success.
In May 1989, during a pilgrimage to Lourdes, Danila got out of the baths where she had been submerged and said she felt an extraordinary feeling of well-being. Several months later, she reported her apparent cure to the Lourdes Office of Medical Observations.
After five meetings between 1989 and 2010, the office concluded that "Mrs Castelli was cured, in a complete and lasting way, from the date of her pilgrimage to Lourdes (21 years ago) of the syndrome she had suffered and without any relation to the treatments and the surgeries she underwent."
The case was passed on to the Lourdes International Medical Committee, which counts some 20 doctors and which certified that the way she healed remains "unexplained according to current scientific knowledge".
Then the bishop of Pavia last month officially declared the cure "prodigious-miraculous".
This is the 69th such miracle attributed to Lourdes since the late 1850s. The 68th was that of an Italian nun who had been paralysed for years and started walking after a pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1965. Her case was officially recognized as a miracle in 2012.
We will post accounts of several of the previous 67 miracles in the days following the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11th).
SISTER OF CHARITY,
CARMELITE BY DESIRE
In 1866, eight years after the 1858 appartions, she entered the Convent of the Sisters of Charity at Saint-Gildard at Nevers. She had always desired to be a Carmelite, but her ill-health ruled her out of that calling. So she joined the Sisters of Charity.
Since the Convent of the Sisters of Charity was at such a far distance from Lourdes, Nevers was very well suited to Bernadette’s wish to hide from the public.
She arrived at the Convent of Saint-Gildard on 7th July, 1866. She was twenty-two. When the Reverend Mother asked her on admission, “What can you do?” her simple answer was: “Nothing very well!” On her second day in the Convent she was obliged to tell her story to the whole community. The mistress of novices, Mother Marie-Therese Vauzou, decided to treat Bernadette twice as severely as the others, so as to guard her against the danger of pride.
On 29th July she took the nun’s habit with the name Sister Marie-Bernard. It was not long before she fell ill and had to be taken to the infirmary. At the end of October she was deemed to be so close to death that the Bishop of Nevers administered Extreme Unction and allowed her to take her vows in advance. But she recovered the next day, much to the chagrin of the novice mistress who accused her of putting on her illness! Bernadette never complained of the severity of the mistress of novices. “She is right – I am proud – I shall work at trying to improve myself!”
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But in 1872 Bernadette’s health deteriorated again and for a time she was confined to her room. When she recovered she reverted to the role of assistant nurse.
In April, 1875, she took to her bed again and remained a permanent invalid. Of great comfort to her was the knowledge that she lived in a spirit of close intimacy with Jesus, whose love knew no limits. ‘He is sufficient for me' she once said.Bernadette developed tuberculosis of the bone in the right knee, a most painful condition which she bore stoically. The name ‘Bernadette’ means ‘brave as a bear’, and she certainly lived up to it. Not surprisingly, she was universally loved and admired by the community she lived among, with the possible exception of the mistress of novices.
The end came on Wednesday, 16th April, 1879. Bernadette asked to be lifted from her bed. After making her last confession she recited the prayer for the dying. She asked for a drink of water, made the Sign of the Cross, bowed her head and died. It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon. She was just 35.
Bernadette was not buried in the town cemetery. Her Mother Superior insisted on keeping her within the convent walls in a vault constructed in the secluded oratory.Thirty years after her death her body was exhumed. There was no trace of corruption, though her crucifix was tarnished by verdigris and her rosary corroded with rust, proving that damp existed within the coffin. Ten years later the body was exhumed again and once more revealed no sign of corruption. After this, Bernadette’s mortal remains were placed in a casket of gilded bronze and crystal in a chapel where all can still see her today at the Convent of Saint-Gildard in Nevers.
In August, 1913, Pope Pius X conferred the title on her of Venerable. In 1923, Pius XI raised her to the rank of Blessed. The Congregation for Rites examined the authenticity of the ten miracles put forward for her Beatification. It selected two – those of Henri Boisselet and Sister Marie-Melanie Meyer.
On 8th December,1933, Bernadette was finally canonized by Pope Pius XI. Her annual feast day is 16th April. In France it is celebrated on February 18th, the date of the third apparition, when Our Lady first spoke to her.
"PENANCE! PENANCE! PENANCE!"
said Our Lady.
"I do not promise to make you happy in this life, but in the next!"
St. Bernadette pray for us!
WHERE ON EARTH IS LOURDES?
Lourdes is located in southern France in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains near the prime meridian. It is overlooked from the south by the Pyrenean peaks of Aneto, Montaigu, and Vignemale (10,800 ft), while around the town there are three summits reaching up to 3,300 ft, which are known as the Béout, the Petit Jer (with its three crosses) and the Grand Jer (with its single cross) which overlook the town. The Grand Jer is accessible via the funicular railway of the Pic du Jer. The Béout was once accessible by cable car, although this has fallen into disrepair. A pavilion is still visible on the summit.
Lourdes lies at an elevation of 1,380 ft above sea level, and in a central position through which runs the fast-flowing river Gave de Pau from the south. On land bordered by a loop of the Gave de Pau river, is an outcrop of rock called Massabielle (from masse vieille: “old mass”). On the northern aspect of this rock, near the riverbank, is a naturally occurring, irregularly shaped shallow cave or grotto, in which the apparitions of 1858 took place.
During the 8th century, Lourdes and its fortress became the focus of skirmishes between Mirat, the local leader, and Charlemagne, King of the Franks. Charlemagne had been laying siege to Mirat in the fortress for some time, but the Moor had so far refused to surrender. According to legend, an eagle unexpectedly appeared and dropped an enormous trout at the feet of Mirat. It was seen as such a bad omen that Mirat was persuaded to surrender to the Queen of the sky by the local bishop. He visited the Black Virgin of Puy to offer gifts, so he could make sure this was the best course of action and, astounded by its exceptional beauty, he decided to surrender the fort and converted to Christianity. On the day of his baptism, Mirat took on the name of Lorus, which was given to the town, now known as Lourdes.
By the time of the 1858 Lourdes was a pretty little Pyrenean town, in the diocese of Tarbes. Prior to the apparitions, Lourdes was little known except for its excellent chocolate.
Lourdes is the most visited pilgrimage shrine in the Christian world. Currently, around 6 million pilgrims visit Lourdes each year. It is estimated that over 200 million pilgrims have come here since 1860. From 1864 to 1872 the shrine was mostly a regional pilgrimage destination attracting approximately 30,000 persons per year. Initially the shrine was not known for its miraculous curative power, but, after 1873, when incidents of healing at the spring began to be reported, the shrine rapidly developed a national and then international reputation.
1. The upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (with the tall spire)
2. The lower Basilica of the Rosary
3. The modern underground Basilica of St. Pius X
4. The Crypt
5. The Grotto where Our Lady appeared
6. The Baths of the Water of Lourdes
7. The Church of St. Bernadette
8. The outdoor Stations of the Cross