Apparitions of Mary
Lourdes, France

Mary Approaches Us As A Loving Mother

     By the middle 1850’s, some men who were learned in knowledge of the world wrote and taught that science and the human spirit had shown that man was quite self-sufficient, and free of any  restrictions set by God, if there was a God.  They said that human reason would be able to provide the answers for our getting along with each other, and that God and religion only placed unnecessary rules upon what they said everyone had the right to do.

     This revolt against God was countered by divinity through an uneducated peasant girl of 14 named Bernadette who lived in the village of Lourdes, France.  One day, she and two other friends were gathering firewood at the grotto near the river.  Her friends had gone on ahead of her and then, quite suddenly, she heard a noise as a most beautiful young woman appeared to her standing on a cloud over a rosebush.  She appeared to be about 17 years old and was dressed in white, except for a blue sash at her waist.  A white veil covered her head, and a yellow rose was on each foot.  She held a rosary on her right arm.

     Bernadette’s mother was told the story, and very reluctantly gave her child permission to return the next day and the following.  The whole town started talking.  The police started to watch Bernadette, and since only she could see and talk with the Lady, there were some who laughed and made fun of her.  The Lady told her to return to the grotto fifteen more days – for a total of eighteen. 

     On one visit, the Lady told Bernadette to drink from the fountain and to wash in it.  That particular spot was dry, and so when Bernadette started digging in the soil and getting herself dirty, some onlookers started to laugh and throw pebbles.  Suddenly, water bubbled up from what had been barren earth.  No one laughed.

     On a later visit, Bernadette was given a message to ask that a chapel be built by the grotto.  The parish priest agreed, but on the condition that the Lady tell who she was.  When Bernadette asked this question of the Lady, her answer was, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”  The priest understood, and planning began to build the chapel.

     Mary’s title – The Immaculate Conception had only three years earlier been announced by the Pope who said that her sinless birth was a dogma of the Catholic Church, that is, expected to be professed as a matter of faith by all Catholics.  Beyond all doubt, Mary was, at the first instant of her conception, preserved from all stain of original sin by the special grace of God.  The words Immaculate Conception were not known to Bernadette, and had no meaning to her.  But through her, God told the world we are to imitate the sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her perfect love for Jesus.  We should take the Immaculate Virgin as the special protector of the purity of our bodies and souls.

     Mary did give messages for Bernadette to tell the people.  We have been told to pray for sinners and to do penance for our sins.  Today, more than a million people visit the churches at Lourdes each year.  The waters of the spring still flow, and because of the acts of faith made by the pilgrims, thousands of miracles have been worked.

     Mary, our loving mother, has reminded us again that God loves us, and that we are to love Him and His Son more than we love ourselves.