APPARITION AT LOURDES


by Rev. C. F. Donovan, 1925 

A little more than three years after the solemn definition, as an article of faith, of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception by our Holy Father, Pope Pius the ninth, on the eleventh day of February, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared for the first time in the Grotto of Massabielle, near the little village of Lourdes, situated in the Pyrenian region of southern France, to a simple, humble and pious child, a peasant girl of fourteen, named Bernadette Soubirous.

Our Lady was clad in luminous white. Her white veil fell to her feet, on each of which shone a golden rose. She wore no crown or jewel of any sort. A broad sash-like girdle of sky-blue encircled her waist. From her hands, joined as in prayer, hung a great rosary of milk-white beads strung on a chain of gold.

Smiling on the child, who was saying her beads, the Queen of Heaven asked her to come to the Grotto each day for fourteen days. Bernadette obeyed, although many obstacles were placed in her way by the temporal authorities of Lourdes. She looked, time and again on the "Beautiful Lady," as she called Mary Immaculate, and Our Lady enjoined her to tell the parish priest of Lourdes that she wished a church to be built near the place where she appeared, so that the faithful might come there in pilgrimage. As evidence for all the world, Our Lady caused a fountain to flow from the barren rock of the Grotto. And she revealed to the little girl, who did not understand the words until they were explained to her by the saintly Father Peyramale, the priest of Lourdes, that she was the Immaculate Conception. In spite of the jibes and persecutions of the atheistical civic authorities, the child's story was believed. 

The truth prevailed--fortified as it was by the miraculous cures which immediately began to take place at the Grotto, where men, women and children afflicted with terrible diseases, some of them at the very point of death, were made perfectly sound and well through the use of the water from Our Lady's fountain. After the most thorough-going investigation, the Church sustained Bernadette, declaring that it was indeed the Immaculate Mother of God who appeared to the child, and authorizing the devotion of Our Lady of Lourdes. Two glorious sanctuaries were erected in obedience to Our Lady's will, and Lourdes has attracted for over sixty years, innumerable pilgrims, among whom not a few go to ask and often receive the happiness of health at the feet of Mary. For her constant and merciful intention to benefit sufferers who trust in her has been made manifest at Lourdes since 1858, by means of hundreds upon hundreds of miraculous cures.

Without seeking to pry into the motives of Divine Providence, the faithful Catholic is entitled to believe that God's purpose, in having Most Holy Mary appear to Bernadette and give the world the miraculous fountain, was to show His approval of men's loving devotion to Mary conceived without sin, and to teach us all to come to Him through Mary.

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