Saturday, February 11, 2012

notre dame de lourdes


Happy Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes! Today is a very special Marian feast day, especially in France. On this day, in 1858, Mary appeared to an illiterate, poor French country girl from the mountains, named Bernadette. At first, Bernadette was frightened and did not know who this woman was who had appeared to her. Mary did not reveal her identity until later, she was simply a beautiful woman.

Over the next few months, this beautiful woman appeared to Bernadette 16 times with several messages and requests. One such request was to dig in the mud of the floor of the grotto, revealing a spring of blessed waters that flows today still, and has been attributed to countless healings and other miracles.

On March 25, 1858, Mary finally revealed her identity to Bernadette, saying that she was the Immaculate Conception. Our Tradition says that Mary was conceived without sin, meaning that she was completely pure and sinless for her entire life--from conception to her Assumption into heaven. Little Bernadette received the message that would become a Dogma of our faith. God likes using unsuspecting messengers to share His Glory.

I was quite blessed to have had the opportunity to pilgrimage to Lourdes twice over this past summer, before I even moved to France. It is a breath-takingly beautiful little town, tucked in the Pyrénées Mountains in southeast France, not very far from Spain. There is so much peace surrounding this town, and Mary's presence is tangible. It is hard to even describe how beautiful this place is. It is truly moving.

Lourdes is the largest pilgrimage site in France (with Lisieux following, right in my backyard!), and is possible one of the most well-known Marian apparition sites in the world. Over 5 million pilgrims are welcomed to Lourdes every year, including many sick and disabled, making a pilgrimage to the healing waters.

Notre Dame de Lourdes, priez pour nous.

pax christi.

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