St. Bernadette Soubirous' Own Account -The Eyes Which Have
first time that I went to the Grotto, I was out gathering
wood with two other little girls. When we reached the mill,
I asked them whether they wanted to see where the water from
the mill joined the river Gave. They replied that they did.
And once we had arrived there, we found ourselves in front
of a grotto.
to go any further, my two companions began to cross the water
in front of the grotto. So, I found myself alone on the other
side. I asked the other two if they would help me to throw
a few stones into the water to see whether I could cross without
taking my shoes off. They told me to do as they had done if
I wanted. I went a little further on to see if I could cross
without taking my shoes off. I couldn't. And so I came back
in front of the grotto to take my shoes off. As I was beginning
to do so, I heard a distant murmur. I saw that the trees were
quite still. I continued to take my shoes off. I heard the
same sound, like a gust of wind. I looked up at the grotto.
I saw a Lady dressed in white. She was wearing a white dress
with a blue sash and had a yellow rose on each foot, the same
colour as the chain of her rosary.
I saw that, I rubbed my eyes. I thought I was mistaken. I
put my hand in my pocket and found my rosary. I wanted to
make the sign of the cross, but I couldn't lift my hand to
my forehead. My hand fell down limply. The vision made the
sign of the cross. Then my hand began to tremble; I tried
again to cross myself and was able to. I began to say my rosary.
The vision was running the beads of her rosary through her
fingers, but she didn't move her lips. When I had finished
my rosary, the vision suddenly disappeared.
asked the two other little girls whether they had seen anything,
and they said no; they asked me what it was that I had to
tell them, and so I told them that I had seen a lady dressed
in white, but that I didn't know what it was and that they
weren't to say anything. Afterwards they told me that I shouldn't
go back there, and I said that I wouldn't. I returned on Sunday
a second time because I felt something inside impelling me
to. My mother had forbidden me to go there, and after High
Mass, together with the other two little girls I went back
to ask my mother once more; she didn't want me to, and said
that she was afraid that I would fall in the water and would
not be back in time for Vespers. I promised her that I should,
and then she gave me permission to go.
went to the church to fetch a little bottle of holy water
to throw at the vision, when I was at the grotto, if I should
see it again. In fact, I did see her, and when I threw the
holy water she smiled and bowed her head. When I had finished
saying my rosary, she disappeared.
of the rosary beads which St. Bernadette held during
was only on the third time that she spoke to me; she asked
me whether I agreed to come for the next two weeks each day,
and I answered: yes. She told me that I should tell the priests
to have a chapel built there: then she said to me that I should
go and drink at the fountain. Since I didn't see one, I went
to drink from the Gave, but she said that it wasn't there,
and she showed me by pointing with her finger where the fountain
was. I went to it, but only saw a little dirty water; I put
my hand there, but couldn't take any water. I began to scrape
and was able to get a little water afterwards. Three times
I threw it away, and the fourth I was able to drink some.
Then the vision vanished and I went away.
returned every day, for the next two weeks, and the vision
appeared every day, except one Monday and Friday. She told
me several times that I must tell the priests that they should
build a chapel there, that I should go and drink at the fountain
and wash there, and that I should pray for the conversion
times I asked her who she was, but she only smiled. With both
arms hanging by her side, she lifted her eyes up to heaven
and said to me that she was the Immaculate Conception.
eighteenth and last apparition took place on July 16,1858.
Lady of Lourdes
bow shall appear in the clouds and I will remember My covenant
with you -Gen. 9:
lessons at Matins on February 11, 1854 (Thursday in Sexagesima
week) recalled these words, and the world soon learned that
on this very day Mary had appeared, more fair than the sign
of hope which typified her at the time of the deluge.
the realization of which we see in these days, were being
multiplied. Mankind had grown old, and seemed about to perish
in a deluge more dreadful than the former one. "I
am the Immaculate Conception, " said the Mother of
divine grace to the humble child whom she chose at such a
time to bear her message to the captain of the Ark of salvation.
She pierced the gathering darkness with the light of that
sublime privilege which the supreme pilot, to his eternal
glory, had declared three years before to be dogma.
if, as the beloved disciple says, it is our faith to which
victory on earth is promised (i John v. 4), and if faith is
nourished by light - what individual dogma is there which
so presupposes and recalls all other dogmatic truths, and
at the same time throws such light upon them? It is a royal
crown on the brow of the victorious queen, resplendent like
the rainbow, which breaks through the clouds with all the
glories of heaven.
perchance it was still necessary to open the eyes of the blind
to these splendours, to inspire courage into hearts saddened
by hell's denials, and to infuse strength to make an act of
faith into so many understandings weakened by the education
of these days. The Immaculate Virgin summoned the multitudes
to the scene of her blessed visit, and both sweetly and strongly
succoured the weakness of souls by healing bodies. She smiled
upon publicity, welcomed investigation, and confirmed by the
authority of miracles her own words and the definition of
the Vicar of Christ....
things that take place at Lourdes are as famous as any events
of contemporary history. Let us listen to the short account,
which the Church has enshrined in the Liturgy:
the fourth year after the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate
Conception, the blessed Virgin vouchsafed to appear on several
occasions to a poor but pious and innocent child named Bernadette,
in a rocky cavern overlooking the grotto of Massabielle on
the banks of the Gave near the town of Lourdes in the diocese
of Tarbes in France. She showed herself as a young and gracious
figure, robed in white, with a white veil and blue girdle,
and golden roses on her bare feet. At the first apparition
on February 11, 1858, she taught the child to make the sign
of the cross correctly and devoutly, and, taking a chaplet
from her own arm, encouraged her by example to say her rosary.
This was repeated at subsequent apparitions. On the second
day, Bernadette, who feared an illusion of the devil, in all
simplicity cast holy water at the apparition, who smiled more
graciously than before. At the third apparition Bernadette
was invited to repeat her visits to the grotto for fifteen
days, during which the blessed Virgin conversed with her,
exhorted her to pray for sinners, kiss the ground and do penance,
and finally commanded her to tell the priests that a chapel
was to be built in the place and processions held. She was
also bidden drink and wash in the water, and a spring, until
then invisible, gushed out of the ground. On the feast of
the Annunciation, the child earnestly begged the Lady who
had so often visited her, to reveal her name, and the blessed
Virgin, joining her hands and raising her eyes to heaven,
am the Immaculate Conception”
of favours received at the holy grotto spread rapidly, and
the crowds of devout visitors increased daily, so that the
Bishop of Tarbes, who had been impressed by the candour of
Bernadette, found it advisable to hold a judicial enquiry
into the facts. In the course of the fourth year he gave sentence,
recognizing the supernatural character of the apparition,
and permitting devotions to our Lady under the title of the
Immaculate Conception to be held in the grotto. A chapel was
soon built, and since then every year has witnessed innumerable
pilgrimages from France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and all parts
of Europe and America. The name of Our Lady of Lourdes has
become famous all over the world, and cures are obtained everywhere
by use of the water. Lourdes has been enriched by a grateful
world with splendidly decorated churches, where countless
banners bear witness to the favours received and to the desire
of peoples and cities to adorn the house of the blessed Virgin,
who is honoured there as in her own palace. The days are filled
with prayers, hymns and solemn ceremonies, and the nights
are sanctified by the pious supplications of countless people
who walk in procession carrying\torches, and singing the praises
of the blessed virgin Mary.
men know how, in spite of the coldness of the world, these
pilgrimages have revived faith, restored the observance of
the Christian religion, and increased devotion to the Immaculate
Virgin. The Faithful are led by their priests in this marvellous
development of faith and devotion....
Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse
to thee!" Thou didst teach us this prayer in 1830
as a safeguard against the dangers of the future. In 1846
the two shepherds of La Salette reminded us of thy tears and
exhortations: "Pray for poor sinners, pray for the
world which is so disturbed." Today the little seer
of the grotto of Massabielle brings us thy message: "Penitence!
desire to obey thee, O blessed Virgin, to combat in ourselves
and all around us that enemy of mankind who is our only real
enemy, and sin, that supreme evil which is the source of all
others. Praise be to the Almighty, who saved thee from all
stain of sin, and thus inaugurated in thee the full restoration
of our fallen race. Praise be to thee, who, having no debts
of thy own, didst pay our debts with the Blood of thy Son
and the tears of His Mother, thus reconciling heaven and earth
and crushing the head of the serpent.
expiation - the Church from apostolic times has ever urged
these thoughts upon us during the days which immediately precede
Lent. Dear Mother in heaven, we bless thee for having thus
united thy voice to that of our Mother on earth. The world
no longer desired, no longer understood, the infallible but
indispensable remedy offered by the justice and mercy of God
to the misery of man. Men seemed to have forgotten the words:
"Except you do penance, you shall all perish"
(Lk. 13: 5). Thy pity wakes us from
this fatal stupor, O Mary. Thou knowest our weakness, and
hast mingled sweetness in the bitter draught. Thou lavishest
temporal favours upon man in order that he may ask of thee
eternal blessings. We will not be like those children who
welcome their mother's caresses, but neglect her admonitions
and the corrections, which her tenderness bought to make acceptable.
We will pray and suffer in union with Jesus and thee. By thine
assistance during this Lent we will be converted and do penance.
from The Liturgical Year, Vol. 4, by Dom Gueranger.
is a pious practice to observe with honour the annual feasts
of our Lady. February is
blessed with two great Marian feasts, the Purification (Feb.
2), and the feast commemorating the first apparition of our
Lady of Lourdes (Feb. 11). This is a recent feast, only extended
to the whole Church by Pope St. Pius X. The apparition at
Lourdes, and the continual miracles worked at this shrine,
especially by drinking and bathing in water from the miraculous
fountain, have made the Immaculate Conception famous and loved
by the whole Catholic world. Even today, Lourdes is a place
of pilgrimage, attracting souls from all the countries of
Europe and beyond.
willed that the creature who should become His mother should
be completely pure and spotless - that the devil should never
have power over her. He prepared her from eternity, that she
should be a worthy habitation for the Divine Son. So Mary
was given a privilege, which had not been bestowed since the
creation of Eve; she was, from the first instant of her life,
immaculate. The Church wishes this feast day to be celebrated
throughout the whole world, to increase our devotion to the
Immaculate Conception. Such a title is not for Mary's honour
alone, but is meant to be a source of blessings for us. So
we pray, in the Collect of this Mass, "we humbly beseech
Thee, that we who celebrate the feast of the apparition of
the same holy Virgin, may obtain health both of soul and body."
Pray confidently to our Lady, in all necessities, and she
will be a help and comfort.
to you in devotion to the Blessed Virgin, I am,