Saturday, February 10, 2007

Our Lady of Lourdes

Tomorrow is the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Were it not it would be the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
On Feb 11, 1858 the vision of a woman ...
...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...
appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto of Massabielle outside Lourdes in the Southwest of the Hautes-Pyrenees department of France. Bernadette was 14 years old.
The apparition appeared 18 times. On the 9th appearance the vision told the young girl to drink from a "puddle" which became a spring, the very spring to which thousands of pilgrims travel a year, hoping for a miraculous cure.
The Lady identified herself to Bernadette on her 16th appearance, after the girl asked who she was, at the prompting of her parish priest, Father Dominique Peyramale. She said that she was the Immaculate Conception.
Now while the Immaculate Conception was a belief held by the Church for centuries, it had only been acknowledged as dogma by Pope Pius the IX in 1854. Bernadette was relatively uneducated, have returned to Lourdes only that January to complete preparation for reception of First Communion, hardly someone who one would expect to know about the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Initially the town's mayor had the site barricaded, until that order was overturned by the Emperor of France in October of that same year. In 1864 a statue of the Virgin Mary was place there. In 1876 a basilica was consecrated there.
Bernadette went on to become a nun, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers. She died at the convent at Nevers in 1879 at the age of thirty-nine. When her body was exhumed in 1909 as part of cause for her canonization she was found to be one of the incorruptables, a person, whose body was not embalmed yet does not decay. Most often this is considered a sign of sainthood, or at least a good indication that the person's life should be reviewed by the Church with the possibly existing that the person might be worthy of sainthood.
Saint Bernadette was canonized in 1933.

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