Rosary Crusade Clarion
Devotional bulletin of the Rosary Crusade in Canada

February 2002 Issue #14

St. Bernadette Soubirous' Own Account -The Eyes Which Have Seen

The 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.


Unable 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.

When 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.

St. Bernadette


I 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.

I 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.


St. Bernadette's rosary

photo of the rosary beads which St. Bernadette held during the apparitions

It 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.

I 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 of sinners.

Several 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.

The eighteenth and last apparition took place on July 16,1858.

Our Lady of Lourdes

My bow shall appear in the clouds and I will remember My covenant with you -Gen. 9: 14-15.

Our Lady of Lourdes


The 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.

Portents, 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.

Indeed, 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.

But 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....

The 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:

In 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, said: I am the Immaculate Conception”

Rumours 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.

grotto at Lourdes

All 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....

"O 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! Penitence! Penitence!"

We 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.

Prayer, 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.




It 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.

God 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.

United to you in devotion to the Blessed Virgin, I am,
Emanuel Herkel
Fr. E. Herkel