Our Lady of Lourdes
Feast Day-February 11th
Between February 11 and July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin came down from heaven eighteen times and showed herself at Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous, a little shepherdess who was only fourteen years of age. On February 11th, while gathering wood, Bernadette heard a whistle of wind. With astonished eyes the child saw a niche in the upper part of a rock filled with golden light, and there in the midst of it stood a Lady of great beauty. Her robe glowed with the whiteness of snow in the sunshine and swept in majestic folds to the ground. Her head and shoulders were framed by a white veil, which fell the full length of her robe. A blue sash encircled her waist, and its two ends, wide and unornamented, reached down in front almost to her feet. Each of her feet bore a rose of purest gold. A rosary whose beads were white and whose cross and chain were of gold, hung from her right arm. Her hands were open, and her arms outstretched slightly in front.
In her apparitions Our Lady appealed for penance and prayers for sinners. On March 25th, the day of the Annunciation, the Blessed Mother declared her name to Bernadette and to the world. On that day Bernadetette made this request: "My Lady, would you be so kind as to tell me who you are?" This is how how Bernadette describes what happened in that last apparition: "Three times I asked the Apparition her name. At the third instance, she stretched out her hands, which until then she had held joined, raised them, and she said: 'I am the Immaculate Conception.' " And having thus completed her great message to the world, the Lady smiled on Bernadette and withdrew without further word of farewell.
Less than four years before these apparitions, on December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed that Mary in the first instant of her conception was preserved free from all stain of original sin through the merits of her Divine Son. At Lourdes the spotless Queen had come to confirm the infallible utterance of God's Vicar on earth and declared herself not only immaculately conceived, but "the Immaculate Conception." Mary's purpose in appearing to Bernadette, who later became a saint, was to warn the child to pray and make sacrifices for sinners. The many miracles performed every year at Lourdes are the proof that this message was an authentic warning from the Queen of the Universe to her children and that she is deeply interested in their welfare.
Mary, Mother of God, I firmly believe in the doctrine of Holy Mother Church concerning your Immaculate Conception; namely, that you were, in the first instant of your conception, by the singular grace and privilege of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.
O God, Who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary have prepared a worthy dwelling for Your Son, we humbly beg of You that we who celebrate the Apparition of the same Virgin may obtain health of mind and body. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
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