Feb. 11 is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, patroness of the sick.
The Blessed Mother gave us this devotion through Saint Bernadette Soubirous, a young and humble girl from Lourdes, France. Millions throughout the world love this devotion – with good reason!
Here are 5 Beautiful Reasons to Love the Miraculous Devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes:
1) Saint Bernadette Soubirous
Our Lady of Lourdes first appeared to 14-year-old Saint Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France. Bernadette came from a very poor family.
At the time of the 1858 apparition, Bernadette lived with her parents in a basement, she was not well-educated, and she had not yet received her first Holy Communion. She also suffered from poor health due to severe asthma.
One day while gathering firewood with her sister and a friend, a beautiful woman appeared to Bernadette at the Massabielle grotto. She appeared to her 18 times in 1858.
Saint Bernadette is the patroness of illness, people ridiculed for their piety, poverty, shepherds, shepherdesses, and Lourdes, France.
2) The Message
Our Lady of Lourdes provided Saint Bernadette with multiple messages.
In her third message to Saint Bernadette, Our Lady said, “I do not promise to make you happy in this world but in the other.” This reflects the happiness God prepares for us in the life to come, and his call to offer our sufferings to Him in love.
Throughout the first seven apparitions, Bernadette’s face exhibited joy and happiness. However, throughout apparitions eight through 12, Bernadette’s face did not reflect this light.
She consumed bitter plants, crawled on her knees in the grotto’s dirt, and drank muddy water. She also smeared her face with mud in a crowd of people who thought she was crazy.
Through Bernadette’s gestures, Our Lady encouraged a life of prayer and penance for the salvation of souls. She said, “Penance! Penance! Penance! Pray to God for sinners. Kiss the ground as an act of penance for sinners!”
According to the Sanctuary of Lourdes official website, these “incomprehensible gestures” were also “biblical actions” – they reflected Christ.
“Bernadette acts out the Incarnation, the Passion and the death of Christ.
“Moving on her knees to the back of the Grotto: this action recalls the Incarnation, God humbles himself to become human.
“Eating bitter herbs at the back of the Grotto recalls the Jewish tradition found in the ancient texts.
“Smearing her face with mud: when the prophet Isaiah speaks to us about Christ, he depicts Him as ‘the suffering servant.'”
Through these apparitions, Our Lady of Lourdes also revealed her identity. She said to Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
This affirmed Bernadette’s parish priest that it was, indeed, Our Lady appearing to her. This message signifies our call to holiness.
3) The Lourdes Grotto and Spring
When the Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Bernadette at the grotto on Feb. 28, 1858, she said, “Go and drink at the Spring and wash yourself there.” It became an amazing place for miraculous healings.
Bernadette once said, “This water is being taken as medicine…One must have faith, one must pray: this water will have no virtue without faith!”
Approximately 80,000 sick and disabled people from all over the world visit the springs every year seeking healing and renewal.
4) The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady requested a chapel be built near the grotto and spring.
She said, “Go, tell the priests that people should come here in procession and to build a chapel here.”
There are now several basilicas and churches at the Sanctuary of Lourdes, where the grotto and spring are also located.
5) Miraculous Healings
As of early 2018, 70 approved miracles are attributed to the Marian shrine at Lourdes. However, more than 7,000 additional healing claims have occurred, even though they are not yet approved.
The first approved miracle was the healing of Catherine Latapie on March 1, 1858. She dislocated her arm and paralyzed her hand after a fall. She regained full movement after placing her hand and arm in the spring water.
Sister Bernadette Moriau, a nun from Beauvais, France, is the 70th and most recently approved miraculous healing. She attended a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in 2008.
Sister Moriau was wheelchair-bound due to spinal damage. The nun was declared officially disabled in 1980.
After attending a blessing for the sick at the Lourdes Shrine, the now 80-year-old nun explained that “something began to change.”
“I felt a [surge of] well-being throughout my body, a relaxation, warmth…I returned to my room and there, a voice told me to ‘take off your braces.'”
“Surprise. I could move,” she said. “She instantaneously walked away from her wheelchair, braces, and pain medications.”
Here’s her story below:
The International Medical Committee of Lourdes recognizes these and many more miracles. After this committee approves it, they inform the patient’s diocese, where the local bishop decides if the Catholic Church will officially approve the miracle.
What do you love about Our Lady of Lourdes?