February 1, 2008

2008 is the 150th anniversary of Lourdes apparitions

By Sean Gallagher

On Feb. 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous about a mile from the

14-year-old peasant girl’s hometown of Lourdes, France, which is in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains in the southwestern part of the country.

Mary appeared to Bernadette at the same place, a grotto at Massabielle, 18 times, the last apparition occurring on July 16 of that year.

A previously unknown spring of water appeared at Massabielle in the midst of the apparitions. Bernadette drank from the spring during some of the apparitions.

In 1862, the bishop of the area acknowledged the reality of the apparitions.

In the years that followed, devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes, including pilgrimages to the site of the apparitions, quickly spread.

In the 150 years since the apparitions, Our Lady of Lourdes has become the Church’s primary patroness of the sick. Millions of those suffering from various illnesses or disabilities have made pilgrimages to Lourdes.

A medical commission that investigates claims of miraculous healings connected to Our Lady of Lourdes has confirmed several hundred miracles.

Many more, however, have been blessed with spiritual strength to bear with patience their sufferings through either a pilgrimage to Lourdes or through prayers to Our Lady of Lourdes.

Since 2008 is the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Mary to St. Bernadette, there will be many special celebrations at Lourdes, including a visit to the pilgrimage site by Pope Benedict XVI.

(Sources are www.lourdes-france.com, the official Web site of Lourdes, and www.newadvent.org/cathen/09389b.htm, the online entry for Our Lady of Lourdes in the 1917 edition of The Catholic Encyclopedia.) †


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