Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Our Lady of Lourdes

On this day in 1858, fourteen-year-old, Bernadette Soubiroux, had her first of 18 encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary. She stumbled across a grotto that at the time was filled with rubbish washed up from the river. As her friends went on to collect firewood, she was left in the grotto. In her own words she describes the vision she saw:

"I came back towards the grotto and started taking off my stockings. I had hardly taken off the first stocking when I heard a sound like a gust of wind. Then I turned my head towards the meadow. I saw the trees quite still: I went on taking off my stockings. I heard the same sound again. As I raised my head to look at the grotto, I saw a Lady dressed in white, wearing a white dress, a blue girdle and a yellow rose on each foot, the same color as the chain of her rosary; the beads of the rosary were white.

Bernadette relates two very interesting messages the first coming in her third visit she could not promise to make me happy in this world, only in the next. In yet another visit Mary tells Bernadette, who could not have possibly known theologically what she was being told, "que soy era Immaculada Councepciou." "I am the Immaculate Conception" this doctrine only recently been approved by the Vatican.

The rest as they say is history. The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes was created and millions of people have visited it on pilgrimage. There have been countless miracles attributed to Our Lady of Lourdes. Bernadette became a nun and was Canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1933. The beauty of our faith is that we as Catholics have Lourdes and Fatima. We have miracles of saints both of the past and the present. They are a rich part of our tradition, but are not necessary as part of the salvific plan of Jesus Christ. They are icing on the cake, the fine woven tapestry of our Church. In Louisiana we call that "lagniappe." Something added.

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