Friday, 27 February 2009

10th Apparition

Saturday 27th. February:

Eight hundred people crowded round the grotto where, two days before, Bernadette had dug a muddy puddle. The puddle was now a flowing spring - almost reaching the banks of the Gav. People watched as Bernadette carried out her acts of penance; drinking the water and eating the weeds. People waited for another message from the Lady. She remained silent. Watching. Praying. Those who had laughed and jeered at the previous apparition were also silent. Perhaps no longer so sure what to think about the little girl from Lourdes who seemed to have such dignity and grace in all she did- even when these actions might invoke judgement and involve humiliation.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

A day without apparition

There were two occasions within the main fourteen days of apparitions that the Lady did not appear (the other was Monday 22nd of February). Bernadette waited for Aquiro on both these occasions with Rosary in hand but she did not come. Desperately disappointed and fearing she had done something to offend the Lady Bernadette would then return home in tears.
To see a post on every apparition anniversary ao far (in 2009) simply click on the post label 'apparitions' below.
The Photograph is of the statue of Bernadette on the domain leading to the grotto.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

A little testimony about a testimony

I haven't been able to post much recently as life has been pretty busy but I have been manging to keep up with each of the apparition anniversaries. Today is one of my favourites- the digging of the spring . It is amazing how fast Lent seems to have descended upon us and I know many bloggers will be quiet for a while and I will miss their posts but understand and admire their Lenten sacrifice. I look forward to their return.

As for me I have been spending a fair bit of time preparing for my trip to Auschwitz next week. On Sunday I met a Holocaust survivor who came to speak to the students at the seminar I attended. His testimony was so deeply moving I cannot express in words its meaning to me. Above all he testified to the value of life. He suffered the ghettos, several camps - including Auschwitz and the death marches. Yet his conclusion - at the age of 79- is that most people are good. He talked of the lives wasted- of the countless bodies he had seen while still a young child. At the end of the war he was only 15 and his close family had been wiped out. Yet he was able to stand in a room and talk about his love for people and how he cries when he sees children in Zimbabwe or in Gaza (yes he is Jewish) who are suffering as he did.

He also spoke about the birth of his daughters and how the moment when the midwife entered and declared 'This is YOUR daughter' were the greatest moments of defiance in his life. The Nazis had wanted death - his death - yet here he was defying them with life. It is his view that life is the finest defiance of evil and death. He spoke of how the disabled, elderly and children had been disregarded and how this must NEVER happen again and yet DOES. His own grandmother, the woman who had raised him, died on the day of the liberation - a beautiful woman who had loved him as her child - she has no grave and no monument except in him. The only regret of his life was never having the chance to say a simple thank you.

For many years he could not believe in God- such was the destruction he had witnessed. At the selections in Auschwitz he saw babies ripped from their mothers arms and shot in front of her because she would not be separated from them so they could go to the gas chambers (the picture above is of an actual selection taking place at Auschwitz). I can understand his feeling. Yet now he says he hopes there is a God. It took him many years to realise it was not God who willed the death of those children - it was man. Yet now he can see that with clarity.

This man was one of the finest I have ever met- brimming with love. My students and I were blown away by him. He said only God could forgive yet he had no bitterness or anger towards any human beings - he told the kids that these things were the real destroyer of man - they had caused the Holocaust in the first place. He is so committed to this message that at 79 he travels round Europe sharing his testimony. It is a marvellous thing to meet someone who is a true example - I remain deeply touched by my encounter with Ziggy and I don't think anything I could write here could give a true impression of his bubbly character, sense of humour and inspirational nature. Yet I felt compelled to share something of this with you.

9th Apparition - the spring

Thursday 25th of February
Following the impressive gestures of the day before a further fifty people joined the crowd that came to the grotto for many reasons - curiosity, prayer and cautious interest. The number at the grotto on this day was about three hundred. This vision would mark a turning point - though the crowds witnessing the events would not realise the significance of what they were seeing. In fact they would laugh and jeer at Bernadette who continued to follow the Lady's commands undaunted. In her own words:

"(The Lady) told me that I should go and drink at the fountain and wash myself. Seeing no fountain I went to drink at the Gave (the river just a few metres from the grotto). She said it was not there; she pointed with her finger that I was to go in under the rock. I went, and I found a puddle of water which was more like mud, and the quantity was so small that I could hardly gather a little in the hollow of my hand. Nevertheless I obeyed, and started scratching the ground; after doing that I was able to take some. The water was so dirty that three times I threw it away. The fourth time I was able to drink it. She also made me eat the bitter herbs that were found near the spring, and then the vision left and went away."

In front of the crowd that was laughing, gasping and jeering Bernadette retreated from the grotto with her usual dignity. When she overheard the crowd asking "Do you think that she is mad doing things like that?" she replied; "It is for sinners."

Though no one yet knew it, the spring Bernadette had dug was in fact the same one that would become known, in a matter of weeks, as the miraculous spring of Massabielle. It has an entirely separate source to the Gave river which flows just metres from it. When examined by scientists it was found to have no special factors compared with other waters and yet incredible things happen to those who come to bathe in it.

People laughed at the grotto that day but now 30000 gallons of water flow from the spring EACH DAY. It is taken all over the world and remains a symbol of faith and hope. Video of the spring can be seen/ heard at the post VIRTUAL LOURDES
(This is the half way point in the apparitions -18 in total. The next apparition occurs on the 27th of February)

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

8th Apparition- Penance

The crowds had continued to swell and now there was about 250 people surrounding the little grotto and the little visionary (to the left you can see a typical day at the grotto now-taken last February). For the first time Bernadette would carry a message to the crowd -one of serious gravity. The message of the "lady" was "Penance! Penance! Penance! Pray to God for sinners. Kiss the ground as an act of penance for sinners!". Bernadette was the first to obey this command - kissing the ground reverently and then raising herself back to a kneeling position. People were impressed with her immense humility and the dignity of the little peasant girl. People described how her whole physique changed when she encountered the Lady. It was almost as though her beauty was reflected in Bernadette's face. I think just looking at Bernadette's eyes a residue of that beauty could be seen for the rest of her life. They seemed to be looking beyond this world. While the events of this day may have moved and impressed the crowd as Bernadette cried out Penance! Penance! Penance! at the close of the vision - kneeling at these words; tomorrow's vision would bring Bernadette ridicule and least until something utterly extraordinary happened.


Dear All,

There seems to have been a glitch with the 'following' gadget on my blog. This means some people have dropped off the list. I thought I had done something to deeply offend people till I noticed that several others had lost followers or had dropped off blogs they follow (Aussie Therese has also posted on this glitch with the followers gadget.). If you have dropped off please feel most welcome to rejoin the fold.



Monday, 23 February 2009

7th Apparition- the secret

The crowds had now reached 150 people and after a day away from the grotto with no apparition, following her first meeting with Jacomet, Bernadette found herself called to Massabielle again. She continued in the same reverent manner as before - speaking with Aquiro in such deep ecstasy that she could barely be heard- though her lips could be seen moving. She kept her eyes fixed on the niche in ardent prayer. On this day the Lady would reveal a secret for Bernadette alone and she would never share it. The next few messages would be very public and the Lady would address the crowds- even though they could not hear or see her- so perhaps this secret was something Bernadette needed to hear before the explosion of activity and miracles that would create the sanctuary of Lourdes.

Sunday, 22 February 2009



It seems that there is a possibility that Pope Benedict may be visiting the British Isles at some point. I have heard rumours like this before and not much has come of it but I think it would do us all some good if we could unite around something positive right now. It would be a great boost for us.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

6th Apparition-pray for all sinners

Sunday 21st of February
At the sixth apparition the crowds leaped in number and when the lady appeared early in the morning on this Sunday Bernadette was surrounded by one hundred people. She would later say that when the lady was present she was barely aware of those surrounding her - such was her focus. On this day the crowds were deeply impressed by Bernadette's reverence and ecstasy. 

As Bernadette speaks and prays with Aquiro-  the lady looks out over the crowd and tells Bernadette 'pray for all sinners.' Bernadette later said that the only time when the lady looked sad was when she talked of sinners- this would be with increasing frequency in the coming visions.

The fact that interest in these visions was growing meant the authorities in Lourdes could no longer avoid confronting what was happening down at the grotto. After this vision the Police Commissioner, Jacomet, had Bernadette summoned in order to question her. This would be the first of many such sessions in which Bernadette would be intimidated and interrogated. In spite of ill health and  exhaustion Bernadette would always hold herself with dignity and respond with incredible precision. She never flinched or shied away when summoned but went willingly and politely wherever she was taken. Jacomet was concerned for the reputation of Lourdes and  wanted Bernadette to tell what she saw. Bernadette would only speak of "AQUƉRO" ("that thing" in local dialect) and when he tried to muddle her about what she saw she calmly corrected him on the details that would remain unchanged, even on the smallest point, in the thousands of verbal and written accounts she would be forced to give until the time of her death.

Bernadette's father Francois came to collect her on this particular day and, afraid of the consequences of these visions and the trouble they were causing for his family, he was persuaded to assure the commissioner that he would not allow his little daughter to continue to go to the grotto of Massabielle.

Friday, 20 February 2009

5th Apparition

5th Apparition
Saturday 20th. February
At the fifth apparition Our Lady spoke with Bernadette and taught her a prayer that was just for her. She would say this prayer every day of her life, but never wrote it down or repeated it to anyone. For the rest of her life people would constantly attempt to make Bernadette divulge this prayer and the secrets Our Lady had told her. Bernadette never gave in but with her immense strength of character and her own brand of feisty Pyreneen wit she would rebuke them for trying in a firm but gentle manner. One frequent response was 'men are powerful on earth but the Holy Virgin is powerful in Heaven'. Whatever was said it was noted by the crowds at the end of this vision Bernadette was overcome with a great sadness.

Word had now begun to spread amongst surrounding villages and this day saw the biggest crowd yet - about thirty people.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

POVERTY - the question

As we approach Lent I get to thinking about all kinds of different things. Poverty is a hard thing to tackle and something that makes most of us uncomfortable on some level. Of course we are all poor in our own way, we are all flawed and weak in one way or another - alongside the good stuff obviously-our gifts, talents and relationships. However, because we are all poor after our own fashion we find it difficult to confront and understand the suffering faced by the material poor. I know I do - what can we do? REALLY do to make it better?

 I have not experienced a great deal of severe material poverty but of course I have seen poverty both in England and elsewhere.  The most extreme I have witnessed was probably on the trip I took to see my friend who was living  in Tanzania, East Africa. You couldn't fail to confront the extreme conditions those people face every day -it was everywhere- often in direct contrast to the hotels and  wealthy hot spots next door to it or on the other side of the street. The people touched my heart - in particular the children. I find they are often with me, they appear in my mind at the oddest moments or times. I see them and am aware of them whenever I consider the theory of poverty. The smell of urine in the orphanage, the wet tears on their cheeks, their way of clinging and holding on to any part of you they could clutch - it wipes away the theory with a sharp stab. I think of their strength, their love, their beauty and most of all I think of their pain.

I think many of us have an idea that the poor should somehow be naturally virtuous, that they should be good because they are poor. Why? when each of them is a person just the same as the rest of us with more reason than most to feel angry, hurt and cheated. Their poverty is not chosen it is enforced. Yet these are the people Christ chooses to walk with. One of my favourite writers is Elizabeth Gaskell - she lived in mid-Victorian England and was the daughter of a clergy man and later married a Vicar. She moved to the north of England, to the very centre of industrial poverty - here she worked among, and wrote about England's poorest yet most essential workers in a society which believed that poverty was really the fault of the poor themselves. In the 1840's there was a famine in the north  and whole families starved to death. Elizabeth Gaskell was brave enough to write from the perspective of the poor and I wanted to share a little of her wisdom - since she has been a great teacher to me. I hope you will find some of the following quotations interesting- Elizabeth Gaskell saw the value of life where others failed to and there is so much wisdom in the writing of this ordinary Christian wife and mother:

From the novel Mary Barton
John Barton, a good man who suffers in poverty, tries to make known the cause of the poor in London but is shunned. He tells his daughter:

"Mary, we must speak to our God to hear us, for man will not  listen; no, not now, when we weep tears o' blood."

This always makes me fear that I am one of those not listening to the cries of the poor - I know they are there, that they are crying out but what am I doing? I mean this about all forms of poverty not just in Africa or the developing world but next door, down the street, maybe even in my own family?

Elizabth Gaskell was writing at the beginning of the era of materialism where poor men were simply seen as instruments of work and their children were dismissed. In fact they were often criticised for having too many children (sound familiar to anyone?) Yet Gaskell fought against this view writing, in a message that could be constructed for our own society, about the value of life beyond the material contributor:  

"But remember! we only miss those who do men's work in their humble sphere; the aged, the feeble, 
the children, when they die, are hardly noted by the world; and yet to many hearts, their deaths make a blank which long years will never fill up."

Materially we might be rich but socially? Are we missing the greatest wealth life has to offer us?

This one however, is my favourite quotation in the whole novel and it comes when Gaskell talks about the suffering of families during the famine: 

"there was "Love  strong as death"; and self-denial, among rude, coarse men, akin to 
that of Sir Philip Sidney's most glorious deed. The vices of the  poor sometimes astound us here; but when the secrets of all hearts shall be made known, their virtues will astound us in far greater degree. Of this I am certain."

When I was in Tanzania who did I find walking with the poor? Answer: The Church. I cannot tell you in words of the difference various orders are making in the communities in which they work - I could see this simply as a visitor. I spent a short time with the MSFS (Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales - whose mural can be seen on the school building above) and found them at the very centre of the community in which they lived. They threw open the doors to me at the schools they ran and showed me where they had set up an optician and a therapy hospital. The children flocked to them and they responded with so much love that I felt a flood, a realisation that our Church does hear those cries, and that does not admonish my personal responsibility to hear them but it gives me hope that I will be able to act, I will be able to follow. 

I am proud to be Catholic for many reasons that I am sure you have picked up on in this blog but most of all I am proud to be Catholic because I am proud to be part of an institution that does see the poor. It does not think itself above the poor, nor does it see empty materialism as the answer to poverty. It recognises itself as poor and raises up the lowly- it is the Church who finds its roots in the small town of Nazareth, in a family protected by a simple carpenter and a child born in a stable. It is a Church that recognises that when Our Lady returned to earth she did not appear in a palace but in the natural beauty of the mountains to a little girl whose life exemplified poverty AND virtue because she had faith. Its ultimate answer wipes away all poverty, all anguish because its answer is LOVE. We simply have to open our hearts and our ears and do all we can to act on this love. A challenge for Lent if ever there was one. 

Children playing happily in MSFS playground:           One of the Sisters who run the MSFS                school:

4th Apparition - the origin of candles

Friday 19th. February was another short and silent Apparition (about thirty minutes) in which Bernadette and Our Lady continued to pray the Rosary together. The woman with the blue sash and the yellow rose between each foot would only join in with the Our Father and the Glory Be the rest of the time she would follow along on the beads with Bernadette's eyes fixed on her. Sometimes she would smile.
This time Bernadette went to the grotto with six women, one of whom was her Aunt. This was the beginning of the weeks of 1858 in which Bernadette would see Aquiro with the greatest frequency. She never claimed that the person she saw was the Virgin Mary and corrected those who did make any such statement. Bernadette was always very precise about the details of what happened at the grotto of Massabielle.

She came to the Grotto with a lighted blessed candle. This is origin of carrying candles and lighting them in front of the Grotto. I love the the fact that no matter the time of year or the time of day since the lighting of this first candle on the 19th of February the candles of faith have continued to burn at this little grotto. Whenever a doubt flickers across my mind I think of the candles burning beneath and close to the rock where Our Lady stood and I know that there is great faith in the world.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Love vs. A Gentleman

A post on another blog reminded me today of a funny story I heard a couple of weekends ago.  The boys public (private if you are in the USA) school system in England is a reasonably famous elitist system. A vicar at a church a friend of mine attends told how, when he was visiting one such school, a headmaster told him that to tutor boys in how to become a gentleman they would use Paul's Corinthians 13 replacing the word LOVE with  GENTLEMAN

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


A GENTLEMAN is patient, A GENTLEMAN is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. 5 He is not rude, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs.  A GENTLEMAN does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  HE always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Quite a nice idea for the most part but when you get to the end you meet a little problem:

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


And now these three remain: faith, hope and A GENTLEMEN. But the greatest of these is A GENTLEMAN.

Clearly humility is not on the agenda here! 

Third Apparition and Bernadette's Feastday

I know its still the 17th where many of my dear readers live but here its tipped over into the 18th here and that means two things:

1. It is the 151st anniversary of the third apparition of Our Lady to Bernadette at the grotto. It was also the first apparition at which Our Lady spoke (OUR LADY OF LOURDES - A BLESSED DAY TO YOU

2. It is Bernadette's official feast day (although interestingly there is disagreement over this because many outside of France celebrate it on the 16th of April- the date of her death) At Lourdes both are recognised - good enough for me! So it will be on my little blog.

1. The third apparition would be the one which would set the course of Bernadette's life. Having prayed the Rosary together the two young women were now ready to converse. Mary would make a request of this simple teenage girl from a small village just as the Angel Gabriel did of her 2000 years before. Bernadette, with a humilityand acceptance which emanated her heavenly mother would accept the Lady's promises with love and trust and return to the grotto knowing that happiness would not be hers in this life if she did - that was the level of her faith in the next life. The account that follows is in Bernadette's own words:

"The third time was the following Thursday. The Lady only spoke to me the third time. I went to the grotto with a few matured people, who advised me to take paper and ink, an
d to ask her, if she had anything to say to me, to have the goodness to put it on paper. I said these words to the Lady. She smiled and said that it was not necessary for her to write what she had to say to me, but asked if I would do her the favour of coming for a fortnight. I told her that I would. She told me also that she did not promise to make me happy in this world, but in the next."

2. A brief celebration of Bernadette's beautiful but often difficult life - it was made beautiful simply by her choices and by her simplicity. Even now, many years after Bernadette's death I have found the places she touched to have a silent, mysterious serenity to them. Yet they are so unremarkable to look at that you could easily pass them by without even noticing. Simplicity.

The Boly Mill - The Boly Mill was where Bernadette had spent most of her childhood with the exception of a couple of brief periods when she stayed with her Aunt at Bartres. The Mill had come to her father through marriage but a combination of the Industrial Revolution and the fact that the Soubirous family were so generous that they often allowed customers to take what they produced on trust meant they lost the mill.
The Cachot
This former prison cell was where the Soubirous' were forced to retreat to after the loss of their Mill. The six Soubirous' lived and prayed in this one small room and it was this ceiling Bernadette slept beneath during the visits. It was also a place of love where, long before the visions the parents and children could be heard reciting the Rosary together.

The Grotto
The grotto - where it all happened and where you can feel it still.

Bernadette saw Our Lady eighteen times in 1858

The Hospice
After the visions Bernadette, suffering a great deal as always with severe asthma which left her unable to breathe, added to by the exhaustion caused by constant harassment from people now filling Lourdes, was taken to the Hospice of the Sisters of Nevers. She was admitted, by her own request, as a destitute- Bernadette wished to remain poor. Even though she remained in Lourdes at this point, being separated from her family saddened her. Bernadette was also subjected to constant visits and scrutiny from visitors to the hospice. She would often weep before being sent out to retell her visions to yet more curious inquisitors. Yet she was always gentle and polite towards them never revealing her pain and frustration.
However, there were some joys here for Bernadette and in the Hospice chapel (left) she finally made her first communion - a moment of true happiness for her. It had been something she longed for.

Bernadette left for Nevers aged 22, she would never see her parents again and it would be
thirteen years before any of her siblings saw her. She knew she could never return to Lourdes and the grotto where she had seen a little of Heaven. She brought with her very little (her bag and umbrella can be seen to the left). Here she would live and suffer as a nun. Her Novice Mistress would cause her much unhappiness and she would gradually find her body deteriorating around her lively, joyful soul.

Death but NOT the end
Bernadette died on April 16th 1879 and was buried in the small chapel of St Joseph- she would not stay in this place however (which can be seen to the left) Having been exhumed three times and found to be intact Bernadette was permanently placed in the main convent chapel in 1925 where she can be seen today (see below) On this day when she was told she would not be happy in this life there seems to be much evidence that she is now exulting in the next with the same young woman she met at that Grotto in Lourdes.

St Bernadette, you promised you would forget no one; on this, one of your feastdays, please pray for us!
for video of Bernadette's body see:

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


Recently I have been thinking a lot about the woman who leant me my first name and therefore my (venerable) patron. I guess not many have heard of Edel Quinn but she and Frank Duff (Servant of God) are key figures in the spread of the Legion of Mary. My Dad moved to England when he was nineteen. He found England rather different to the small town Ireland he was used to. By chance he joined the Legion of Mary and discovered the great example of Edel who he would eventually name his fourth child after- of course my Mum had the final choice but when she heard it she liked it and coupled with the name Anne- it seemed to create a good combination. Today I thought I would post her little known story. The Legion prayer is one of great beauty and power and I have also included this at the end of the post.

At age twenty of Edel was working as a secretary proving to be most efficient and conscientious.  At this time the spiritual side of her life was becoming more dominant.  She joined the Legion of Mary in Dublin. 

Edel’s destiny was to be linked to the Legion perhaps more than she knew.  In 1932 when about to join the poor Clare Convent in Belfast, a contemplative order, it was discovered she had advanced tuberculosis of the lungs.  This would eventually end her life.  An eighteen-month stay in a sanatorium followed.  Towards the end of 1933 she went back to her office job and her beloved Legion.   She spent time visiting the sick and the needy.

 In 1936, with her health still failing, Edel responded to a call to go as envoy to Africa.  Understandably the central council of the Legion was reluctant to agree.  “How could this slight, waif-like creature possibly have the stamina required for extensive travel throughout Central Africa?”  A determined Edel remarked that she was going in with her eyes open and didn’t want to “go on a picnic”. 

In November 1936, she arrived in Mombasa, Kenya.  Within 14 days she had set up the first praesidium, Legion group, called “The Immaculate Conception”.  Like everything else she had tackled previously, Edel threw herself into fulfilling her role, which was to bring Catholics of all ethnic backgrounds to work together through Our Lady. 

Within five months, Edel had founded the first Curia, (a governing council of the Legion for guiding praesidia). 

Sheer necessity brought about the purchase of a six year old Ford V8

coupe.  When her newly acquired driver proved unreliable, in true Edel fashion she learned to drive.  Harrowing journeys, in her “Rolls Royce” as she called it, were all part of the job – “She was utterly undaunted” Frank Duff, the Legion’s founder once said of her, “Just laughed her way through obstacles that would have beaten almost anyone else.”

     In the period 1937 – 1940 she introduced the Legion to Uganda, Tanganyika (Tanzania), Nyasaland (Malawi) and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

     She organized the translations and printing of prayers in several different languages and dialects.  During her many hospital spells she continued her work through correspondence.

    By 1943, the tuberculosis was well advanced and even Edel had to admit she was slowing down considerably.  Yet she still continued her travels

    By November 1943, her hard labor had paid off.  Hundreds of Legion groups were thriving on African soil thanks to this single-minded Irish woman. Some extracts from her personal notes:

We can find Him, at every free moment, on the Altar.  Be with Him there.  Better than all books! "

 "Thank the Trinity over and over again for this Gift."

 "Rest in His presence, and my Guardian Angel will adore Him for me.  Silence."

 "At Mass I united myself to the victim Christ, through Mary’s hands, for the glory of the Trinity, in thanksgiving for everything, and on behalf of souls.  At Mass always to have special intention of offering and hearing it on behalf of those who cannot hear it themselves by reason of sickness, distance, work or war.  Place this intention in Mary’s hands."

The Legion Prayer

Confer, O Lord, on us,

Who serve beneath the standard of Mary,

That fullness of faith in you and trust in her,
To which it is given to conquer the world.
Grant us a lively faith, animated by charity,
Which will enable us to perform all our actions
From the motive of pure love of you,
And ever to see you and serve you in our neighbour;
A faith, firm and immovable as a rock,
Through which we shall rest tranquil and steadfast
Amid the crosses, toils and disappointments of life;
A courageous faith which will inspire us
To undertake and carry out without hesitation
Great things for your glory and for the salvation of souls;
A faith which will be our Legion's Pillar of Fire -
To lead us forth united -
To kindle everywhere the fires of divine love-
To enlighten those who are in darkness and in the shadow of death- 
To inflame those who are lukewarm-
To bring back life to those who are dead in sin;
And which will guide our own feet in the way of peace;
So that - the battle of life over -
Our Legion may reassemble,
Without the loss of any one,
In the kingdom of your love and glory. Amen.

May the souls of our departed legionaries
And the souls of all the faithful departed
Through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Monday, 16 February 2009

WOOPS! Forgot to post on the second apparition 14th of February

Okay so I meant to post on each of the Lourdes apparitions and seem to have fallen at the second of eighteen hurdles - clearly am a bit rubbish. Anyway should have posted this on Saturday but didn't get time.

The second time Bernadette went back to the grotto was with two friends. Her confessor had advised her to take holy water and she did as she had been instructed by him. Ever obedient, Bernadette had done as her mother told her and steered clear of the grotto even though it caused her great sadness. However, on this Sunday her mother relented and, provided she stayed with her friends, the sickly Bernadette, over whom her mother fretted was allowed to return there.

This was the second silent apparition. Bernadette later wrote her own clear account of it. Bernadette was forced to recount her vision hundreds, even thousands of times and not even the smallest detail ever changed or altered - impressive considering that at the time of the visions she had been struggling to remember the catechism which would mean she could make her first holy communion. The veil to the left is the one that Bernadette wore during the apparitions These were worn by most peasant girls in the basque region in order to keep them warm in the cold Pyreneen winters. Little did anyone know the events of the winter of 1858 would change the quiet town of Lourdes (and the world) forever. Below is Bernadette's account of the apparition which occurred on 14th of February (next apparition is the 18th)

"The second time was the following Sunday. I went back because I felt myself interiorly impelled. My mother had forbidden me to go. After High Mass, the two other girls and myself went to ask my mother again. She did not want to let us go, she said that she was afraid that I should fall in the water; she was afraid that I would not be back for Vespers. I promised that I would. Then she gave me permission to go.

I went to the Parish Church to get a little bottle of holy water, to throw over the Vision, if I were to see her at the grotto. When we arrived, we all took our rosaries and we knelt down to say them. I had hardly finished the first decade when I saw the same Lady. Then I started to throw holy water in her direction, and at the same time I said that if she came from God she was to stay, but if not, she must go. She started to smile, and bowed; and the more I sprinkled her with holy water, the more she smiled and bowed her head and the more I saw her make signs. Then I was seized with fright and I hurried to sprinkle her with holy water until the bottle was empty. Then I went on saying my rosary. When I had finished it she disappeared and we came back to Vespers. This was the second time."

Thursday, 12 February 2009

the rediscovery of a little witness

In January I lost my Miraculous medal which was pretty special to me (The loss of a little witness) On Monday night I went to get some photos of Lourdes out of my case because the feast day was coming up and there, under them, was my little shiny gold medal. I don't know how it got there. I didn't go into that case in January and I know I had my medal on that morning I left for school because I never took it off. I have thought over and over how it might have got there - I am going to stop thinking now and just be thankful instead. Please don't think I am claiming any great miracle or anything like that- in fact I am not suggesting anything. I am just perplexed so I am throwing it out there; into the Universe. Most of all I am so, so, so grateful to all of you for your prayers to St Anthony who never fails me and Our Lady who is always close to each and every one of us.

Thank you!

I am taking this as proof that we should never give up hope because even the things and causes we think are lost (St Jude) can always be turned around. Things come back to us when we least expect it - as long as we keep up those prayers. This is the beauty of life.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


This is part of a sermon I heard in February 2007 when I visited Lourdes on and around the 11th. This was the close of the sermon and this snippet begins with the priest talking about Bernadette's reaction to the first vision- which was to reach for her Rosary- and ends with him speaking about the hope brought to us by Our Lady. I couldn't think of a more appropriate time to share it - and listen for the bells which seem to toll at such a key moment. I hope you all have a wondeful day filled with many blessings!


FROM BARTRES, Prayer of a poor beggar, From Lourdes to Nevers, VIRTUAL LOURDES, Inspiration on a Monday - Bernadette's Journey,

Tuesday, 10 February 2009


FAR LEFT: Mosaic marks the spot where Bernadette knelt on the first 11th of February.
RIGHT: The statue in the domain on the 11th of February last year surrounded by the flowers of pilgrims.

As we celebrated the 150th anniversary on the 11th last year the sun broke through over the mountains and bathed everyone in light. It was a beautiful morning.
There is a serious shake of the hand in the following video so I hope it doesn't give you a headache but I thought it would give you a nice sense of what will happen at the grotto tonight when the feast officially begins. There will be Rosary with decades in major languages and then the torchlight procession with thousands of candles and Aves filling the air. This dodgy little video was filmed this time last year at the grotto.

This video I couldn't resist putting on even though there is the sound of a slightly over enthusiastic woman next to me who was not enitrely tuneful but made up for it with volume! I am sure Our Lady loves all singers tuneful or not (I am not the most tuneful myself)


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