Monday, 1 November 2010
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
Friday, 4 June 2010
Sunday, 30 May 2010
Friday, 16 April 2010
In the hour of Christ's death Bernadette raised her arms in a cross and cried out "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, poor sinner, poor sinner ..."
Bernadette had been told at the grotto many years before that she would not be happy in this world but in the other. She had taken this to heart and she never took it for granted. Her life was one of suffering and giving. Bernadette did not always find life easy but she gave herself completely to her vocation and gave up her beloved Lourdes. Her body remains a visible witness to faith in
Sunday, 4 April 2010
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
And so the main 14 days of apparitions come to an end. Again, Bernadette returned to the grotto with her Rosary and asked the Lady's name as she had been told to by the priest. In her own words:
"The third time I went to see M. le Curé, to tell him that a Lady had ordered me to go and say to the priests that they were to have a chapel built there, he looked at me for a moment, and then he said to me in a rather gruff tone, 'Who is this lady?' I answered that I did not know. Then he commissioned me to ask her name and to come and tell him. The next day when I arrived at the grotto I recited my rosary and then asked her, from M. le Curé what her name was, but all she did was to smile. When I got back I went to M. le Curé to tell him that I discharged his commission, and her only response was her smile; then he said she was laughing at me and that I would do well not to go to her again. But, I could not help going."
The Lady smiled once more but the vision was silent. The crowd was now far too large to put an exact number on but a conservative estimate is 8000 people. Bernadette's focus remained compete. The crowd was waiting for the miracle that would prove the Lady's divinity. It did not come and Peyramale, along with many others were unimpressed and took this as proof of their suspicions.
The grotto stood for the next twenty days with no visits from Bernadette or her Aquiro. The Lady would only appear another three times. However, the next apparition would cause the greatest commotion of all. On Thursday the 25th of March the Lady would reveal her name.
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Wednesday 3rd of March
Bernadette arrived early in the morning on this day as this was when the Lady most often appeared. As always Bernadette seemed focused only on seeing the Lady and was undisturbed by Peyramale's comments of the day before. Like Mary's, Bernadette's faith was unwavering and she did not falter in her belief that she must go to the grotto as she had been asked. She would later say in her usual direct and simple manner 'I have nothing to say because I have always told the truth'.
However, early as Bernadette was and surrounded by a crowd of THREE THOUSAND people the Lady did not appear and Bernadette left for school disheartened. However, in the evening she was compelled to go back to the grotto and there she met once more with the Lady she so loved to look on.
Bernadette had been told by Peyremale to ask the Lady for her name. He had also asked that the Lady make the rosebush flower as proof of her existence. Ever faithful Bernadette repeated this message from the priest but the Lady simply smiled back at the girl gazing upon her, bowed a little and smiled
Tuesday 2nd of March
At this apparition the Lady would make two requests that are staples of the modern Lourdes - one a chapel and the other procession. Bernadette would later tell how the Lady asked quite simply:
"Go, tell the priests to come here in procession and to build a chapel here”
That is exactly what Bernadette did- taking the short walk up to the house of Peyramale who was a generous but firm priest - known for his clarity and his temper. Little Bernadette, a peasant girl who would be indistinguishable from any other village peasant was accompanied by her two Aunts. The Soubirous family were still rather sceptical about the visions themselves. They were practical people but they also knew Bernadette and that all her life she had been unequivocally honest. They knew that she would not deceive them and therefore they walked with her. Peyramale's reputation was not without foundation - Bernadette repeated the Lady's request and aggravated his famous temper. He asked her if she or the Lady had any money. Bernadette shook her head- she had to admit she had nothing - not even a penny.
'Neither do I!' shouted Peyramale.
Peyramale told Bernadette that if the Lady wanted a chapel the least she could do was mention her name. He said that before she got anything she should make the wild rose bushes flower - a miracle to prove that she was deserving of her chapel or any time at all. Bernadette simply said she would ask the Lady all that Peyramale had told her to ask. He told her to go home and to stop her deception. He also told off her aunts for letting this silly little girl bother him in the first place. He shooed them away but Bernadette returned a few minuets later to ask that people should come in procession - she had forgotten this part because Peyramale had been so outraged by the chapel she hadn't even got to the second part of the request. Angered even more by this the priest told her once more to go home and stop her deception - he slammed his window shut. Bernadette went home but there was no deception to put an end to and her messages from the Lady would certainly not end there. Little did she know that the man who had turned her away on this day would soon become her ardent defender. The power of Aquiro.
The photo above is the chapel as seen from the grotto at night.
Monday, 1 March 2010
The crowds were now at about 1500 and on this day, for the first time, a priest was among them. During the night something strange had happened and there was an atmosphere of excitement - though Bernadette seemed only aware, as usual, of the Lady she ran to the grotto to meet. She conversed with the Lady and continued her acts of penance.
A pregnant housewife Catherine Latapie had gone to the spring Bernadette had dug days before with the idea that bathing her arm, which had a paralysis of the ulnar nerve and caused her a great deal of pain, might soothe the agony. Her arm was healed and from that time forward caused her no pain. She also went into labour immediately and had to leave the grotto after which her baby was safely delivered. Dr Dozous, the local and esteemed M.D. was interested in this event and began recording the events at the spring which had medical implications. This is often recorded as the first miracle.
Sunday 28th. February
Bernadette continued to carry out her acts of penance with the graciousness and humility that so struck the crowd of now over one thousand people. This would involve Bernadette being absorbed in prayer, kissing the ground, drinking from the overflowing spring and moving on her knees as a sign of penance. Some still did not know what to make of her but the increasing popularity and notoriety of the grotto was giving the authorities a headache. Lourdes was anxious not be seen as a backwards mountain outpost and for this reason Bernadette was taken to the house of Judge Ribes following this vision. Bernadette was threatened with prison and interrogated (again). She remained firm saying she had made a promise to Aquiro and she could not break it. She would return to the grotto.
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, 25 February 2010
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)
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
The crowds had continued to swell and now there was about 250 people surrounding the little grotto and the little visionary. 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 humiliation...at least until something utterly extraordinary happened.
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Sunday, 21 February 2010
At the sixth apparition the crowds leapt 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.
Thursday, 18 February 2010
It is now the 18th here and this means two things:1. It is the 152nd anniversary of the third apparition of Our Lady to Bernadette at the grotto. It was also the first apparition at which Our Lady spoke
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 thecourse 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. Bernadette, with a humility and acceptance 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, and 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 BolyMill - TheBoly 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 Soubirousfamily were so generous that they often allowed customers to take what they produced on trust meant they lost the mill.The CachotThis former prison cell was where theSoubirous' 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 GrottoThe grotto - where it all happened and where you can feel it still.
Bernadette saw Our Lady eighteen times in 1858
The HospiceAfter 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.
NeversBernadette 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 NoviceMistress 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 waspermanently 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:
Monday, 15 February 2010
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, 11 February 2010
God our Father among all creatures You have formed Mary, the perfect creature, the "Immaculate Conception." In Lourdes she proclaimed this name and Bernadette repeated it. The Immaculate Conception; this is a cry of hope: evil, sin, and death are no longer victors.
Mary, precursory sign, dawn of salvation! Mary, you, the innocence and refuge of sinners, we pray to you.
Ave Maria, gratia plena!
Lord Jesus, You gave us Mary as our Mother. She shared Your Passion and Resurrection. In Lourdes she showed herself to Bernadette, saddened by our sins but radiant with Your light. Through her, we entrust to You our joys and our sorrows, our own, those of the sick, and those of all people.
Mary, our sister and our mother, our confidant, and our help, we pray to you ...
Ave Maria, gratia plena!
Holy Spirit, you are the Spirit of love and unity. In Lourdes, through Bernadette, Mary asked for a Chapel, and for people to come in procession. Inspire the Church which Christ is building on Peter's faith: that it may be one. Guide the pilgrimage of the Church: that it may be faithful and daring!
Mary, you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you are the spouse and the servant. You are the model for Christians, and the maternal face of the Church. We pray to you ...
Ave Maria, gratia plena!
For the many graces received, for all the conversions, all the forgiveness, all the healings, for the vocations and promises which you have witnessed or engendered, for the love of serving others, which you have let us experience, Our Lady of Lourdes we thank you!
Benedicta tu in mulieribus!
With all our brothers and sisters of the human race, with all people in need of peace and justice, with young people in search of a way, you who appeared so young to little Bernadette, with all those who are in mourning, who are ill, handicapped, or facing a setback, with those who may have a reason for despair: Our Lady of Lourdes We pray to you!
Ora pro nobis!
Because you are the smile of God, the reflection of the light of Christ, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, because you chose Bernadette in her misery, because you are the star of the morning, the gate of Heaven, and the first resurrected creature we praise you, we acclaim you and with you we sing the wonders of God,
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
On the 11th of February a girl went to collect firewood and in that simple action begins the story which is not always joyful, especially for Bernadette who made great sacrifices in her life. Yet it remains a story of triumph, a grotto, a symbol of hope that stood through two world wars and draws more pilgrims to it now, in this secularised Europe than it ever has before. One can only begin to consider the awe Bernadette must have felt when all of this begun. Two years ago I was able to be at the grotto on the 11th and I was able to look up at the space where 'Aquiro' first appeared. That was a privilege enough for me and at the time I might not have fully realised why, yet because of that privilege I have been able to open a dialogue about Lourdes on this blog and people have emailed me and messaged me from as far afield as Africa. Thank you to all of you who have read along and given me a chance to talk about a beauty which language does no justice to. Lourdes belongs to all of us and the grotto is open to our faith and to our hearts. It is a gift.
For pictures of the 11th of Feb 2008 (150th anniversary) click here
For a post on the first apparition click here
For a sermon from Lourdes on Our Lady (2008) click here
Last year I was very privileged in taking some petitions to the grotto for people and I was just wondering- if people reflect back- whether they feel any of those prayers were answered. Not that I am asking people to share publicly or I think that Lourdes is some kind of gumball machine where you put in a prayer and get a prize. I was just thinking it might be a nice time to consider those petitions again.
There are so many ways in which prayers can be answered- our ways are not His ways -and Lourdes is as much about the miracles you can't see, those of the soul, as those you can.
I wish you all a blessed feastday tomorrow and remember your intentions in my own prayers.
Our Lady of Lourdes - pray for us!
Friday, 22 January 2010
I am not sure anything can ever really be described as "Catholic fiction" but more the story of humanity, based on the reality of truth. I would not object to the label either, but it is a shame that the secular publishers are so afraid of anything that goes against the trend of the secular society in which we live that they will not spend time promoting it. They would rather put a label on it and put it in the corner, claiming it can have no relevance for anybody but those of the same religion as the author. Yet look at the recent Sacred Made Real exhibition here in London- some told the National Gallery that a self respecting Brit would never put a foot through the door of anything so embarrassingly Christian- yet the opposite proved to be the case. England is thirsty for a centre but too frightened to say it out loud. Literature can be another way to quench this thirst
Our humanity, our link to one another is through Christ. John Paul II said that to deprive a society of Christ was an "inhuman act" because it was to deny them the solution to the reality of identity. In this case any fiction about the nature of humanity could be called "Catholic fiction"
It is important to promote good fiction of value and worth, fiction that touches upon that reality of who we are, that questions and explores the soul of the human person. For this reason I agreed to put a link out, for all my blog readers but, particularly those in the UK (since there is little budget here for promotion for "Catholic fiction") so that they have the opportunity to be aware that this writing is out there and for EVERYBODY - not just Catholic readers.
The Amazon link is here
More about Andre McNabb here