The Grotto of Lourdes
On February 11, 1858 a series of mystical appearences to a young 14 year old French peasent girl named Bernadette Soubirous began in a small, somewhat isolated French town named Lourdes in the far southern end of that country. Young Bernadette knew very little of her Catholic faith yet her name is truly written in heaven and forever here on earth. She certainly had no concept of what the recently defined Dogma of the Immaculate Conception meant. Mary's words to her, "I am the Immaculate Conception" perplexed young Bernadette but she recited them over and over as she carried the lady's "name" to the local parish priest.
The vision of a "lady dressed in white" opened for Berndatte and for the world the now link between Our Lady of Lourdes and miraculous healings. The shrine of Lourdes has become the most popular pilgrimage destination in the world. Approximately 7 million people each year travel to this picturesque town to pray, wash in the waters of Lourdes, seek healing, and renew their faith.
Not everyone who goes to Lourdes witnesses a miracle. In fact, such an event is rare - that's why it is called a miracle. But, those who do go are touched and the miracle of renewed faith, a sense of peace and purpose in life, the forgiveness of sin through the sacrament of reconciliation, the candle light Rosary procession at night, the singing, and of course the multitude of shops with Rosaries and every other sort of religious items for sale, leaves an indellible memory. I have had the fortune of visiting Lourdes three times over the years on various pilgrimages. It never gets old or routine. It touches you deeply.
Today, February 11th is also the World Day of Prayer for the Sick. We join with our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and many others as we offer prayer this day for those who seek healing of any sort. Below is a link to the official website of the Shrine at Lourdes. If you like you can leave a petition for prayer at the Grotto and the website explains how to do that.
May the Immaculate Mother of God pray for us and particularly at this time of world upset in the middle east - the land of her Son. "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you."