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The CMRI Sisters will be making a novena in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes for the nine days preceding her feast on February 11, on which day they will honor her in a special way in their prayers and at Holy Mass. If you have any prayer intentions you would like them to commend during the novena, you are welcome to send them in to the Sisters using the form at the right. (N.B.: A donation is customary but is not obligatory).
Among the most well known of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary are those of Lourdes, France, where she appeared 18 times to a peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, between February 11 and July 16, 1858. The mysterious vision Bernadette saw in the hollow of the rock Massabielle, where she and friends had gone to gather firewood, was that of a young and beautiful Lady “lovelier than I have ever seen,” said the child. She described the Lady as clothed in white with a blue sash around her waist and a Rosary hanging from her right arm. Now and then the Lady spoke to Bernadette, asking her to continue to come to the grotto, and to do penance for poor sinners.
One day the Lady told the girl to drink from a fountain within the grotto. Since Bernadette knew of no such water source, she scratched at the ground where the Lady indicated, and there a spring bubbled up and soon gushed forth. On another occasion the Lady bade Bernadette go and tell the priests that she wished a chapel to be built on the spot and processions to be made to the grotto. At first the parish priest said he would not believe it unless the Lady told Bernadette her name. After another apparition, Bernadette reported to him that the Lady told her, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Although the girl was unfamiliar with the term, the Pope had declared the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary in 1854.
Four years after Bernadette’s visions, in 1862, the bishop of the diocese declared the faithful “justified in believing the reality of the apparition” of the Lady. A basilica was built upon the rock of Massabielle by M. Peyramale, the parish priest, and pilgrimages were inaugurated. Three years later the basilica was consecrated and the statue solemnly crowned. In 1883 the foundation stone of another church was laid, as the first was no longer large enough. It was built at the foot of the basilica and was consecrated in 1901 and called the Church of the Rosary. Pope Leo XIII authorized a special Office and a Mass in commemoration of the apparition, and in 1907 Pope Pius X extended the observance of this feast to the entire Church. It is now observed on February 11. Today, Lourdes is the most popular place of pilgrimage in the world. Reproductions of the grotto have been built in many places including our own beautiful one here at Mount St. Michael.