The Story of Our Lady of Lourdes

The Story of Our Lady of Lourdes

On February 11, 1858 a 14 year-old girl named Bernadette Soubirous witnessed the first of 18 visions of her blessed Virgin Mary at a grotto near Lourdes, France.  The first apparition appeared when Bernadette was gathering wood with her sister and a friend.  Bernadette heard a noise like a gust of wind and looked up toward the grotto.  She described what she saw:  “I saw a lady dressed in white.  She wore a white dress, an equally white veil, a blue belt and a yellow rose on each foot.”

 Upon seeing the Lady, who had a Rosary draped over her right arm, Bernadette began praying the Rosary.  When the prayer ended the Lady suddenly vanished.  On a subsequent visit to the grotto, the lady spoke.  Bernadette asked the Lady to write down her name, and the Lady replied:  “It is not necessary,” and then added, “I do not promise to make you happy in this world, but in the next. Would you be kind enough to come here for a fortnight?”  In the weeks that followed, there were several more apparitions of the Lady at the grotto.

 On on occasion, the Lady gave Bernadette the following message:  “Penance! Penance! Penance!  Pray to God for sinners.  Kiss the ground as an act of penance for sinners!”  On another visit to the grotto, with a large crowd present, the apparition instructed Bernadette to drink and bathe from a previously unknown spring that flowed under the rock.  While scratching the ground, Bernadette found that it was moist and that a little pool of muddy water was forming.

 She cupped her hands together and was able to drink the water and wash her face.  The waters that flow from this holy spring have subsequently been known to have miraculous healing powers.  Upon hearing of Bernadette’s visions, the local priest directed Bernadette to ask the Lady her name.  Initially, the Lady only smiled but did not divulge her name.  It was not until the 16th apparition that the Lady identified herself.

 Bernadette said that the Lady “lifted up her eyes to heaven, joined her hands as though in prayer…and said to me: ‘I am the Immaculate Conception”.  The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared twice more at the grotto.  Bernadette’s final vision occurred on July 16th, 1858.  

Today millions of pilgrims venture to Lourdes every year to experience the healing properties of the waters that flow from the spring.

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