Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog: Consecrate, Genesis 1:1-19, Psalms 104, Mark 6:53-56, Our Lady of Lourdes Feast Day, Le Pelerinage de Lourdes, Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, Catholic Catechism Part One Section 2 The Creeds Chapter 2 Article 2:2 Christ

Monday, February 11, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog:

Consecrate, Genesis 1:1-19, Psalms 104, Mark 6:53-56, Our Lady of Lourdes Feast Day, Le Pelerinage de Lourdes, Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, Catholic Catechism Part One Section 2 The Creeds Chapter 2 Article 2:2 Christ

Good Day Bloggers!  Wishing everyone a Blessed Week!

Heed the Solemnity of Lent! As the Psalm says: “The Lord is my Shepherd! I lack nothing. In grassy meadows he lets me lie. By tranquil streams he leads me to restore my spirit. He guides me in paths of saving justice as befits his name. Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death I should fear no danger, for you are at my side. Your staff and your crook are there to soothe me. You prepare a table for me under the eyes of my enemies.” (Ps 23, 1.3-5).

Year of Faith - October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift of knowledge and free will, make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Purgatory and/or Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


 Prayer For the Holy Election of Our New Pope

Sadly Pope Benedict XVI has announced his retirement on the Feast Day of our Lady of Lourdes. We must pray together for Pope Benedict XVI retirement and our New Pope, yet to be elected, as well as all of Gods Shepherds.

May the Lord preserve the sanctity of the enclave as they embark on electing our new Holy Father, give him life, and make him blessed upon earth, and deliver him not to the will of his enemies.

O God, the Shepherd and Ruler of all the faithful, in Thy mercy look down upon Thy servant, (Our New Pope), whom Thou will appoint to preside over Thy Church, and grant we beseech Thee that both by word and example he may edify those who are under his charge; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may attain life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


February 2, 2013 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
"Dear children, love is bringing me to you - the love which I desire to teach you also - real love; the love which my Son showed you when He died on the Cross out of love for you; the love which is always ready to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. How great is your love? My motherly heart is sorrowful as it searches for love in your hearts. You are not ready to submit your will to God's will out of love. You cannot help me to have those who have not come to know God's love to come to know it, because you do not have real love. Consecrate your hearts to me and I will lead you. I will teach you to forgive, to love your enemies and to live according to my Son. Do not be afraid for yourselves. In afflictions my Son does not forget those who love. I will be beside you. I will implore the Heavenly Father for the light of eternal truth and love to illuminate you. Pray for your shepherds so that through your fasting and prayer they can lead you in love. Thank you."

January 25, 2013 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
"Dear children! Also today I call you to prayer. May your prayer be as strong as a living stone, until with your lives you become witnesses. Witness the beauty of your faith. I am with you and intercede before my Son for each of you. Thank you for having responded to my call."


Today's Word:  consecrate   con·se·crate  [kon-si-kreyt]

Origin: 1325–75; Middle English consecraten  < Latin consecrātus  (past participle of consecrāre ), equivalent to con- con- + -secr-  (variant, in non-initial syllables, of sacer ) sacred, holy + -ātus -ate1
verb (used with object)
1. to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity: to consecrate a new church building.
2. to make (something) an object of honor or veneration; hallow: a custom consecrated by time.
3. to devote or dedicate to some purpose: a life consecrated to science.
4. to admit or ordain to a sacred office, especially to the episcopate.
5. to change (bread and wine) into the Eucharist.


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Psalms 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 24, 35

1 Bless Yahweh, my soul, Yahweh, my God, how great you are! Clothed in majesty and splendour,
2 wearing the light as a robe! You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
5 You fixed the earth on its foundations, for ever and ever it shall not be shaken;
6 you covered it with the deep like a garment, the waters overtopping the mountains.
10 In the ravines you opened up springs, running down between the mountains,
12 on their banks the birds of the air make their nests, they sing among the leaves.
24 How countless are your works, Yahweh, all of them made so wisely! The earth is full of your creatures.
35 May sinners vanish from the earth, and the wicked exist no more! Bless Yahweh, my soul.


Today's Epistle -  Genesis 1:1-19

1 In the beginning God created heaven and earth.
2 Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, with a divine wind sweeping over the waters.
3 God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light.
4 God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness.
5 God called light 'day', and darkness he called 'night'. Evening came and morning came: the first day.
6 God said, 'Let there be a vault through the middle of the waters to divide the waters in two.' And so it was.
7 God made the vault, and it divided the waters under the vault from the waters above the vault.
8 God called the vault 'heaven'. Evening came and morning came: the second day.
9 God said, 'Let the waters under heaven come together into a single mass, and let dry land appear.' And so it was.
10 God called the dry land 'earth' and the mass of waters 'seas', and God saw that it was good.
11 God said, 'Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants, and fruit trees on earth, bearing fruit with their seed inside, each corresponding to its own species.' And so it was.
12 The earth produced vegetation: the various kinds of seed-bearing plants and the fruit trees with seed inside, each corresponding to its own species. God saw that it was good.
13 Evening came and morning came: the third day.
14 God said, 'Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night, and let them indicate festivals, days and years.
15 Let them be lights in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth.' And so it was.
16 God made the two great lights: the greater light to govern the day, the smaller light to govern the night, and the stars.
17 God set them in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth,
18 to govern the day and the night and to divide light from darkness. God saw that it was good.
19 Evening came and morning came: the fourth day.


Today's Gospel Reading  - Mark 6:53-56

Having made the crossing, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and moored there. When they disembarked people at once recognised him, and started hurrying all through the countryside and brought the sick on stretchers to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, to village or town or farm, they laid down the sick in the open spaces, begging him to let them touch even the fringe of his cloak. And all those who touched him were saved.

• The text of today’s Gospel is the final part of the whole passage of Mark 6,45-56 which presents three different themes: a) Jesus goes to the mountain alone to pray (Mk 6, 45-46). b) Immediately after, he walks on the water, goes toward the disciples who are struggling against the waves of the sea (Mk 6, 47-52). 3) Now, in today’s Gospel, when they were already on the shore, the people look for Jesus so that he can cure their sick (Mk 6, 53-56).

• Mark 6, 53-56. The search of the people. “At that time, Jesus and his disciples having made the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret. When they disembarked, the people at once recognized him”. The people were numerous looking for Jesus. They came from all parts, bringing their sick. The enthusiasm of the people who look for Jesus and recognizing him follow him is surprising. What impels people to search for Jesus is not only the desire to encounter him, to be with him, but rather the desire to be cured of the sicknesses. “And hurrying all through the countryside they brought the sick on stretchers to wherever they heard he went.  And wherever he went to village or town or farm, they laid down the sick in the open spaces, begging him to let them touch even the fringe of his cloak, and all those who touched him were saved”. The Gospel of Matthew comments and enlightens this fact quoting the figure of the Servant of Yahweh, of whom Isaiah says: “Yet ours were the sufferings he was bearing, ours the sorrows he was carrying”. (Is 53, 4 and Mt 8, 16-17)

• To teach and to cure, to cure and to teach. Right from the beginning of his apostolic activity, Jesus goes through all the villages of Galilee, to speak to the people about the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God (Mk 1, 14-15). There, wherever he finds people to listen to him, he speaks and transmits the Good News of God, he accepts the sick, in all places: in the Synagogues during the celebration of the Word, on Saturday (Mk 1, 21; 3, 1; 6, 2); in the informal meetings in the house of friends (Mk 2, 1.15; 7, 17; 9, 28; 10, 10); walking on the street with the disciples (Mk 2, 23); along the beach, sitting in a boat (Mk 4, 1); in the desert where he took refuge and where people looked for him (Mk 1, 45; 6, 32-34); on the mountain from where he proclaimed the Beatitudes (Mt 5, 1); in the squares of the villages and of the cities, where the people took their sick (Mk 6, 55-56); in the Temple of Jerusalem, on the occasion of pilgrimages, every day without fear (Mk 14, 49)! To cure and to teach, to teach and to cure that is what Jesus did the most (Mk 2, 13; 4, 1-2; 6, 34). This is what he used to do (Mk 10, 1). The people were amazed (Mk 12, 37; 1, 22.27; 11, 18) and they looked for him, as a crowd.

• In the origin of this great enthusiasm of the people was, on the one hand, the person of Jesus who called and attracted and, on the other side, the abandonment in which people lived, they were like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mk 6,34). In Jesus, everything was revelation of what impelled him from within! He not only spoke of God, but he also revealed him. He communicated something of what he himself lived and experienced. He not only announced the Good News. He himself was a proof, a living witness of the Kingdom. In him was manifested what happens when a human being allows God to reign in his life. What has value, what is important, is not only the words, but also and above all the witness, the concrete gesture. This is the Good News which attracts! 

Personal questions
• The enthusiasm of the people of Jesus, looking for the sense of life and a solution for their ills. Where does this exist today? Does in exist in you, does it exist in others?
• What attracts is the loving attitude of Jesus toward the poor and the abandoned. And I, how do I deal with the persons excluded by society?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day: Feast Day of Our Lady Of Lourdes

Feast DayFebruary 11

Patron Saint: Heavenly Mother, Patroness of the World

Attributes: She was dressed all in white, apart from the blue belt fastened around her waist and the golden yellow roses, one on each foot, the colour of her rosary

Bernadette witnessing the apparition
of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Stained glass, Bonneval.
Our Lady of Lourdes is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary invoked by Roman Catholics in honor of the Marian apparitions which are said to have taken place before various individuals on separate occasions around Lourdes, France.

Most prominently among these is the apparition of 11 February 1858, when Saint Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old peasant girl admitted to her mother that a "lady" spoke to her in the cave of Massabielle, (a mile from the town) while gathering firewood with her sister and a friend.[1] Similar appearances of the "lady" were reported on seventeen further occasions that year.

Bernadette Soubirous was later canonized as a Saint, and Roman Catholics and some Protestants believe her apparitions have been validated by the overwhelming popularity and testament of healings claimed to have taken place at the Lourdes water spring.

In 1862, Pope Pius IX authorized the Bishop Bertrand-Sévère Laurence to permit the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lourdes. This Marian title, Our Lady of Lourdes has been widely copied and reproduced, often displayed in shrines or homes, most notably in garden landscape.


On 11 February 1858, Bernadette Soubirous went with her sisters Toinette and Jeanne Abadie to collect some firewood and bones in order to buy some bread. After taking off her shoes and stockings to wade through the water near the Grotto of Massabielle, she said she heard the sound of two gusts of wind (coups de vent) but the trees and bushes nearby did not move. A wild rose in a natural niche in the grotto, however, did move. From the niche, or rather the dark alcove behind it, "came a dazzling light, and a white figure." She was dressed all in white, apart from the blue belt fastened around her waist and the golden yellow roses, one on each foot, the colour of her rosary.[2] Bernadette tried to keep this a secret, but Toinette told her mother. After parental cross-examination, she and her sister received corporal punishment for their story.[3][4]

Three days later, Bernadette returned to the Grotto. She had brought holy water as a test that the apparition was not of evil provenance, and demanded that if she were from God, she must stay, but if she were evil, she must go away; however, she said the vision only inclined her head gratefully when the water was cast and she made her demands.[4]

Bernadette's companions are said to have become afraid when they saw her in ecstasy. She remained ecstatic even as they returned to the village. On 18 February, she spoke of being told by the Lady to return to the Grotto over a period of two weeks. She quoted the apparition: I promise to make you happy, not in this world, but in the next.[3]

After that the news spread and her parents took interest. Bernadette was ordered by her parents to never go there again. It was a shock when people heard her story as it was so unlikely. She went anyway, and on 24 February, Bernadette related that the apparition asked for prayer and penitence for the conversion of sinners. The next day, she said the apparition asked her to dig in the ground and drink from the spring she found there. This made her disheveled and some of her supporters were dismayed, but this act revealed the stream that soon became a focal point for pilgrimages.[5]

Although it was muddy at first, the stream became increasingly clean. As word spread, this water was given to medical patients of all kinds, and many reports of miraculous cures followed. Seven of these cures were confirmed as lacking any medical explanations by Professor Verges in 1860. The first person with a “certified miracle” was a woman whose right hand had been deformed as a consequence of an accident. Several miracles turned out to be short-term improvement or even hoaxes, and Church and government officials became increasingly concerned.[6] The government fenced off the Grotto and issued stiff penalties for anybody trying to get near the off-limits area. In the process, Lourdes became a national issue in France, resulting in the intervention of emperor Napoleon III with an order to reopen the grotto on 4 October 1858. The Church had decided to stay away from the controversy altogether.

Bernadette, knowing the local area well, managed to visit the barricaded grotto under cover of darkness. There, on 25 March, she said she was told: "I am the Immaculate Conception" ("que soy era immaculada concepciou"). On Easter Sunday, 7 April, her examining doctor stated that Bernadette, in ecstasy, was observed to have held her hands over a lit candle without sustaining harm.[6] On 16 July, Bernadette went for the last time to the Grotto. I have never seen her so beautiful before, she reported.[6]

The Church, faced with nationwide questions, decided to institute an investigative commission on 17 November 1858. On 18 January 1860, the local bishop finally declared that: The Virgin Mary did appear indeed to Bernadette Soubirous.[6] These events established the Marian veneration in Lourdes, which together with Fátima, is one of the most frequented Marian shrines in the world, and to which between 4 and 6 million pilgrims travel annually.

In 1863, Joseph-Hugues Fabisch was charged to create a statue of the Virgin according to Bernadette's description. The work was placed in the grotto and solemnly dedicated on 4 April 1864 in presence of 20,000 pilgrims.

The veracity of the apparitions of Lourdes is not an article of faith for Catholics. Nevertheless, all recent Popes visited the Marian shine. Benedict XV, Pius XI, and John XXIII went there as bishops, Pius XII as papal delegate. Working with Le Pelerinage de Lourdes he also issued, an encyclical on the hundredth anniversary of the apparitions in 1958. John Paul II visited Lourdes three times.

Position of the Catholic Church

Approval of Lourdes
On 18 January 1862, Bishop Laurence, the Bishop of Tarbes, gave the solemn declaration: "We are inspired by the Commission comprising wise, holy, learned and experienced priests who questioned the child, studied the facts, examined everything and weighed all the evidence. We have also called on science, and we remain convinced that the Apparitions are supernatural and divine, and that by consequence, what Bernadette saw was the Most Blessed Virgin. Our convictions are based on the testimony of Bernadette, but above all on the things that have happened, things which can be nothing other than divine intervention".[7]

Nature of approval
Because the apparitions are private, and not public revelations, Catholics are not required to believe them. They do not add any additional material to the truths of the Catholic Church as expressed in public revelation. In Roman Catholic belief, God chooses whom he wants cured, and whom he does not, and by what means. Bernadette said, "One must have faith and pray; the water will have no virtue without faith."

Holy Mass of "Our Lady of Lourdes"
The Catholic Church celebrates a mass in honor of "Our Lady of Lourdes" (optional memorial) in many countries on February 11 of each year — the anniversary of the first apparition. There had long been a tradition of interpreting the Song of Songs as an allegory of God's love for the Church, so up until the liturgical reforms following Vatican II, a passage from this Old Testament book was used during the mass for its reference to the "beloved" appearing in a cleft of a rock[8] and its parallel with what Catholics have described as the "Mother of the Church"[9] being seen in the cleft of a rock in Lourdes.

Act of consecration
The following prayer is said by Catholics as an act of consecration to Our Lady of Lourdes.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Virgin Immaculate, you appeared 18 times to Bernadette at the grotto in Lourdes to remind Christians of what the truths in the Gospel require of them. You call them to prayer, penance, the Eucharist and the life of the church. To answer your call more fully, I dedicate myself, through you, to your Son Jesus. Make me willing to accept what he said. By the fervour of my faith, by the conduct of my life in all its aspects, by my devotion to the sick, let me work with you in the comforting of those who suffer and in the reconciliation of people that the church may be one and there be peace in the world. All this I ask, confident that you, Our Lady, will fully answer my prayer. Blessed be the Holy and Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. St. Bernadette, pray for us. [10]

Popes and Lourdes 

In the past 150 years, popes have taken great interest in Marian apparitions such as Fatima and Lourdes. Pope Pius IX approved the veneration in Lourdes and welcomed and supported the building of the Cathedral in 1870 to which he donated several gifts. He approved the veneration and promoted Marian piety in Lourdes with the granting of special indulgences and the formation of local Lourdes associations.[11] Pope Leo XIII crowned Our Lady of La Salette and issued an apostolic letter Parte Humanae Generi in commemoration of the consecration of the new Cathedral in Lourdes in 1879.[12]

 Pope Benedict XV, when archbishop of Bologna, organized a diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, asking for the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin there. In 1907, Pope Pius X introduced the feast of the apparition of the Immaculate Virgin of Lourdes. In the same year he issued his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, in which he specifically repeated the permission to venerate the virgin in Lourdes.[13]

During the pontificate of Pope Pius XI reported apparitions occurred in Our Lady of Beauraing and Our Lady of Banneux. In 1937, Pius XI nominated Eugenio Pacelli as his Papal Delegate to personally visit and venerate in Lourdes. Pius XI actively furthered the venerations in Lourdes by beatifying Bernadette Soubirous on 6 June 1925. He canonized her on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1933 and determined her Feast Day to be 18 February.[14] Bernadette, who suffered from asthma and bone cancer, had lived on the borderline of social acceptance within the Church during her lifetime.[15] 18 February is the day the Virgin Mary reportedly told Bernadette that she did not promise to make me happy in this world, but in the next.[16]

Pope Pius XII, commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the Immaculate conception dogma, announced a Marian year, the first one on Church history. In his encyclical Fulgens Corona, he described the events in Lourdes as follows:
  • It seems that the Blessed Virgin Mary herself wished to confirm by some special sign the definition, which the Vicar of her Divine Son on earth had pronounced amidst the applause of the whole Church. For indeed four years had not yet elapsed when, in a French town at the foot of the Pyrenees, the Virgin Mother, youthful and benign in appearance, clothed in a shining white garment, covered with a white mantle and girded with a hanging blue cord, showed herself to a simple and innocent girl at the grotto of Massabielle. And to this same girl, earnestly inquiring the name of her with whose vision she was favored, with eyes raised to heaven and sweetly smiling, she replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception." [17]

    Le Pelerinage de Lourdes, the only encyclical written on Lourdes, was issued on the centenary of the apparitions at Lourdes. The encyclical represents one of the strongest pronouncements of the papal magisterium on Marian apparitions in the history of the Catholic Church. The Pope presents Mary as the model of alternative life-style. The school of Mary teaches everybody selflessness and charity.

    • In the school of Mary one can learn to live, not only to give Christ to the world, but also to await with faith the hour of Jesus, and to remain with Mary at the foot of the cross. Wherever providence has placed a person, there is always more to be done for God's cause. Priests should with supernatural confidence, show the narrow road which leads to life. Consecrated and Religious fight under Mary's banner against inordinate lust for freedom, riches, and pleasures. In response to the Immaculate, they will fight with the weapons of prayer and penance and by triumphs of charity. Go to her, you who are crushed by material misery, defenseless against the hardships of life and the indifference of men. Go to her, you who are assailed by sorrows and moral trials. Go to her, beloved invalids and infirm, you who are sincerely welcomed and honoured at Lourdes as the suffering members of our Lord. Go to her and receive peace of heart, strength for your daily duties, joy for the sacrifice you offer. [18][19]

      One of the churches built at the site, the Basilica of St. Pius X can accommodate 25,000 people. At the request of Pius XII, it was consecrated on 25 March 1958, by the Patriarch of Venice, cardinal Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII. Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, had visited Lourdes as archbishop of Milan. He became the first pope to visit a 19th century Marian apparition site, when he went to Fatima at the fiftieth anniversary of the first apparition on 17 May 1967.[20] Pope John Paul II undertook three pilgrimages to Lourdes, the last one shortly before his death. Pope Benedict XVI visited Lourdes commemorating the 150th anniversary of the apparitions in September 2008.

      Lourdes water

      "anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never thirst again: the water that I shall give will turn into a spring within them, welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14)

      The location of the spring was described to Bernadette Soubirous by an apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes on 25 February 1858. Since that time many thousands of pilgrims to Lourdes have followed the instruction of Our Lady of Lourdes to "drink at the spring and wash in it".

      Although never formally encouraged by the Church, Lourdes water has become a focus of devotion to the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. Since the apparitions, many people have claimed to have been cured by drinking or bathing in it,[21] and the Lourdes authorities provide it free of charge to any who ask for it.[22]

      An analysis of the water was commissioned by Mayor Anselme Lacadé of Lourdes in 1858. It was conducted by a professor in Toulouse, who determined that the water was potable and that it contained the following: oxygen, nitrogen, carbonic acid, carbonates of lime and magnesia, a trace of carbonate of iron, an alkaline carbonate or silicate, chlorides of potassium and sodium, traces of sulphates of potassium and soda, traces of ammonia, and traces of iodine.[23] Essentially, the water is quite pure and inert. Lacadé had hoped that Lourdes water might have special mineral properties which would allow him to develop Lourdes into a spa town, to compete with neighbouring Cauterets and Bagnères-de-Bigorre.[21]

      Secular views

      Miracles are important events in the Christian Bible and are thus part of divine revelation for the faithful Christians. Yet the advent of rationalism and the social sciences renewed the search for natural explanations of miracles in general and the events in Lourdes in particular. Historical, psychological, natural analogies and other empirical explanations have been forwarded, all of which are welcomed by the Catholic Church, provided they are generally open-ended and unbiased.[24] Analogies are most common in Marian apparitions, they indicate that the person involved used popular images and common language. They do not by themselves support arguments for or against the apparition itself.

      Thus, Bernadette described the apparition as uo petito damizelo ("a tiny maiden") of about twelve years old. Bernadette insisted that the apparition was no taller than herself. At 1.40 m tall, Bernadette was diminutive even by the standards of other poorly nourished children.[25]

      Bernadette described that the apparition was dressed in a flowing white robe, with a blue sash around her waist. This was the uniform of a religious group called the Children of Mary, which, on account of her poverty, Bernadette was not permitted to join (although she was admitted after the apparitions).[26] Her Aunt Bernarde was a long-time member.

      The statue that currently stands in the niche within the grotto of Massabielle (illustrated above) was created by the Lyonnais sculptor Joseph-Hugues Fabisch in 1864. Although it has become an iconographic symbol of Our Lady of Lourdes, it depicts a figure which is not only older and taller than Bernadette's description, but also more in keeping with orthodox and traditional representations of the Virgin Mary. On seeing the statue, Bernadette was profoundly disappointed with this representation of her vision.[27]

      Historical context

      Many Marian apparitions, although they may occur in different ages and cultures, share similarities. Bernadette's visions took place against a cultural backdrop of apparitions and other supernatural events that bear some resemblance to Bernadette's experiences. It is likely that Bernadette would have known of, and may even have been influenced by, such events, which were woven into the fabric of her society.

      For example, in nearby Lestelle-Bétharram, only a few kilometres from Lourdes, some shepherds guarding their flocks in the mountains observed a vision of a ray of light which guided them to the discovery of a statue of the Virgin Mary. Two attempts were made to remove the statue to a more prominent position; each time it disappeared and returned to its original location, at which a small chapel was built for it.[29]

      More importantly, in the early sixteenth century, a twelve-year-old shepherdess called Anglèze de Sagazan received a vision of the Virgin Mary near the spring at Garaison (part of the commune of Monléon-Magnoac), somewhat further away. Anglèze's story is strikingly similar to that of Bernadette: she was a pious but illiterate and poorly educated girl, extremely impoverished, who spoke only in the local language, Gascon Occitan, but successfully convinced authorities that her vision was genuine and persuaded them to obey the instructions of her apparitions. Like Bernadette, she was the only one who could see the apparition (others could apparently hear it); however, the apparition at Garaison's supernatural powers tended toward the miraculous provision of food, rather than healing the sick.

      Mid-nineteenth century commentators noted the parallels between the events at Massabielle and Garaison, and interestingly, interpreted the similarities as proof of the divine nature of Bernadette's claims.[30] At the time of Bernadette, Garaison was a noted center of pilgrimage and Marian devotion.

      There are also several similarities between the apparition at La Salette, near Grenoble, and Lourdes. La Salette is many hundreds of kilometres from Lourdes, and the events at La Salette predate those in Lourdes by 11 years. However, the lady of La Salette was large and maternal, not petite and girlish, and had a darker, more threatening series of messages. It is not certain if Bernadette was aware of the events at La Salette.[31] Contemporary Catholic interpreters had great difficulties explaining Bernadette's claim on the Immaculate Conception, of which she knew nothing. Ecclesiastical authorities tried unsuccessfully to ridicule her statement to that effect as not credible.

      Similarity to other visions

      When comparing the various visions of Jesus and Mary, Saint Bernadette's vision in Lourdes is somewhat similar to the case of Saint Juan Diego's vision in 1531 in Mexico. Both saints reported visions in which a miraculous lady on a hill asked them to request that the local priests build a chapel at that site of the vision. Both visions had a reference to roses and led to very large churches being built at the sites. Like Our Lady of Lourdes in France, Our Lady of Guadalupe is a major Catholic symbol in Mexico. And like the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the largest and most visited Catholic churches in the Americas.

      The Sanctuary

      The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes or the Domain (as it is most commonly known) is an area of ground surrounding the shrine (Grotto) to Our Lady of Lourdes in the town of Lourdes, France. This ground is owned and administrated by the Church, and has several functions, including devotional activities, offices, and accommodation for sick pilgrims and their helpers.

      The Domain includes the Grotto itself, the nearby taps which dispense the Lourdes water, and the offices of the Lourdes Medical Bureau, as well as several churches and basilicas. It comprises an area of 51 hectares, and includes 22 separate places of worship [1]. There are six official languages of the Sanctuary: French, English, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and German.

      The Lourdes Medical Bureau

      To ensure claims of cures were examined properly and to protect the town from fraudulent claims of miracles, the Lourdes Medical Bureau (Bureau Medical) was established at the request of Pope Pius X. It is completely under medical and not ecclesiastical supervision. Approximately 7000 people have sought to have their case confirmed as a miracle, of which 68 have been declared a scientifically inexplicable miracle by both the Bureau and the Catholic Church.[32]

      The officially recognized miracle cures in Lourdes are among the least controversial in the Catholic world, because Lourdes from the very beginning was subject to intense medical investigation from skeptical doctors around the world. All medical doctors with the appropriate specialization in the area of the cure have unlimited access to the files and documents of the Lourdes Medical Bureau (Bureau Medical),[33] which also contains all approved and disapproved miracles. Most officially recognized cures in Lourdes were openly discussed and reported on in the media at the time. Nevertheless, there were a few instances where medically ascertained incomprehension turned out not to be miracles, because the illness reappeared in later years. In the vast number of cases however, the judgement of the medical and ecclesiastical authorities was upheld as beyond medical explanation in later on critical investigations.[34]


      The pilgrimage site is visited by millions of Catholics each year, and Lourdes has become one of the greatest pilgrimage sites of the world. Various unusual occurrences are reported to take place, not onlysubsequent to bathing in or drinking the water of the Lourdes Spring, but also during the dailyEucharistic procession. Miraculous healings have been claimed, and a number of these have been documented by the Lourdes Medical Commission. Large numbers of sick pilgrims travel to Lourdes each year in the hope of physical healing or spiritual renewal.

      In popular culture

      • In 1943, the events became the basis of the film The Song of Bernadette. Jennifer Jones played the title role while Linda Darnell portrayed the Virgin Mary. The film won several Academy Awards, including an Academy Award for Best Actress for Jones. At the first Golden Globes ceremony in 1944, Jones received the award for Best Actress and the film won Best Picture.
      • In 1959, singer Andy Williams recorded a song entitled "The Village of St. Bernadette".

      Song of Bernadette  (1943)
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      The Song of Bernadette is a 1943 drama film which tells the story of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, who from February to July 1858 in Lourdes, France, reported eighteen visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was directed by Henry King. The film was adapted by George Seaton from a novelization of Bernadette's story, written by Franz Werfel. The plot follows the novel by Franz Werfel, which is not a documentary but a historical novel blending fact and fiction. Posted as Fair Use for educational viewing.

      **Copyright Disclaimer - Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research under the term "fair use", which is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational, and personal use also tips the balance in favor of fair use.


            1. ^ Catholic Online: Apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes First Apparition
            2. ^ Taylor, Thérèse (2003). Bernadette of Lourdes. Burns and Oates. ISBN 0-86012-337-5
            3. ^ L Laurentin, Lourdes, Marienlexikon, Eos Verlag, Regenburg, 1988, 161
            4. Harris, Ruth. Lourdes, Allen Lane, London, 1999, p 4
            5. ^ Harris 7
            6. Lauretin 162
            7. ^ Lourdes France: The encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary
            8. ^ "Song of Songs", 2:14, retrieved 29 May 2007
            9. ^ "Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church", Catechism of the Catholic Church 963, retrieved 29 May
            10. ^ Act of Consecration
            11. ^ Josef Schmidlin, Papstgeschichte, München 1934, 317
            12. ^ Bäumer Leo XIII, Marienlexikon, 97
            13. ^ Bäumer, Pius X Marienlexikon, 246
            14. ^ Hahn Baier, Bernadette Soubirous, Marienlexikon, 217
            15. ^ Hahn Baier 217
            16. ^ Catholic Pilgrims: Apparitions at Lourdes
            17. ^ Fulgens Corona, 3
            18. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 57
            19. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes, 40 ff
            20. ^ Bäumer Paul VI, 128
            21. ^ Ruth Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Penguin Books,1999, p. 312.
            22. ^ Richard Clarke, 2008 Lourdes, Its Inhabitants, Its Pilgrims, And Its Miracles ISBN 1-4086-8541-8 page 38
            23. ^ Lourdes 4
            24. ^ Stöger, Erscheinungen in Marienlexikon, 395 ff
            25. ^ Ruth Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 72.
            26. ^ Ruth Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 43.
            27. ^ Visentin, M.C. (2000). "María Bernarda Soubirous (Bernardita)". In Leonardi, C.; Riccardi, A.; Zarri, G. (in Spanish). Diccionario de los Santos. Spain: San Pablo. pp. 1586–1596. ISBN 84-285-2259-6.
            28. ^ 14th century fresco from the Visoki Dečani monastery
            29. ^ Ruth Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 39.
            30. ^ Ruth Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 41.
            31. ^ Ruth Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 60.
            32. ^ Where Scientists are looking for God, The Telegraph, 16 January 2002. Retrieved 7 August 2012
            33. ^ Müller, 767
            34. ^ Müller 768


                Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane



                Today's Snippet I:  Le Pelerinage de Lourdes

                Le Pelerinage de Lourdes is the only encyclical of Pope Pius XII issued in French. It includes warnings against materialism on the centenary of the apparitions at Lourdes. It was given at Rome, from St. Peter's Basilica, on the feast of the Visitation of the Most Holy Virgin, July 2, 1957, the nineteenth year of his Pontificate. The encyclical represents so far the strongest pronouncement of the papal magisterium on Marian apparitions in the history of the Catholic Church.
                The encyclical recalls pleasant memories of the pilgrimage to Lourdes which Pope Pius XII undertook as Papal delegate at the Eucharistic and Marian Celebrations in 1937. The Pope reminds the faithful of France, that every Christian land is a Marian land and that” there is not one nation redeemed in the blood of Christ which does not glory in proclaiming Mary its Mother and Patroness” [1] He then recalls the history of Marian veneration, the history of Lourdes and the contributions of the Popes to her veneration in Lourdes.

                The Popes and Lourdes

                The first part of the encyclical reviews the contributions of the papacy to the veneration in Lourdes

                Pius IX and Leo XIII

                The encyclical mentions, that in 1869 Pius IX rejoiced, because obstacles created against Lourdes "by the malice of men, rendered stronger and more evident the clarity of the fact." He crowned the statue of our Lady of Lourdes.[2] In 1892 Leo XIII granted the proper Office and Mass of the feast "In apparitione Beatae Mariae Virginis Immaculatae," which his successor was to extend to the Universal Church a short time later. He installed and blessed a reproduction of the Grotto of Massabielle in the Vatican gardens, and prayed to Mary as Co-Redemptrix:
                • In her power may the Virgin Mother, who once cooperated through her love with the birth of the faithful into the Church, now be the means and guardian of our salvation; may she return the tranquillity of peace to troubled souls; may she hasten the return of Jesus Christ in private and public life. [3]

                  Saint Pius X

                  The encyclical states, that fifty years after the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Saint Pius X wrote in Ad Diem Illum, that his predecessor Pius IX, "had hardly defined it to be of Catholic faith that Mary was from her very origin exempt from sin, when the Virgin herself began performing miracles at Lourdes." [4] Pius X created the episcopal title of Lourdes, and signed the introduction for the beatification of Bernadette. He emphasized the wonderful harmony at Lourdes between Eucharistic worship and Marian prayer.[5] Pope Pius XII concludes: “It could not have been otherwise. Everything about Mary directs us to her Son, our only Savior, in anticipation of whose merits she was immaculate and full of grace. Everything about Mary raises us to the praise of the adorable Trinity."[6] The encyclical adds, that Saint Pius X had viewed the shrine of Lourdes as surpassing in glory all others in the Catholic world.[7] 

                  Benedict XV and Pius XI

                  The encyclical states, that Benedict XV added new indulgences but was unable to do much more because of World war One. Pius XI, who had been to Lourdes himself as a pilgrim, continued the work of Benedict XV. He canonized Bernadette, Sister Marie Bernard. And he described Lourdes "now justly considered one of the principal Marian shrines in the world." [8] Pius XII recalls his own previous encyclical,[9] in which he wrote about Lourdes, that
                  • The Blessed Virgin Mary herself wanted to confirm by some special sign the definition which the Vicar on earth of her Divine Son had pronounced amidst the vigorous approbation of the whole Church. [10]

                  The challenge of materialism

                  The second part of the encyclical deals with conversion, specifically a Marian conversion of heart and society. The Virgin invites to the conversion of hearts and the hope of forgiveness.[11] Individual conversion is not enough. The Pope appeals for Christian renewal of society in answer to Mary's appeal.[12] 


                  The root of the evil according to Pius XII, is a terrible temptation to materialism. This is not confined to materialistic (Marxist) philosophy. It exists also as “a love of money which creates ever greater havoc, as modern enterprises expand, which, unfortunately, determines many of the decisions which weigh heavy on the life of the people. It finds expression in the cult of the body, in excessive desire for comforts, a flight from all the austerities of life, an unrestrained search for pleasure, a concept of life which regulates everything exclusively in terms of material prosperity and earthly satisfactions ” [13] The encyclical teaches, that the school of Mary provides many practical answers.

                  School of Mary

                  In the school of Mary one can learn to live, not only to give Christ to the world, but also to await with faith the hour of Jesus, and to remain with Mary at the foot of the cross. Wherever providence has placed a person, there is always more to be done for God's cause.

                  The encyclical states, that Priests should with supernatural confidence, show the narrow road which leads to life. Consecrated and Religious fight under Mary's banner against inordinate lust for freedom, riches, and pleasures. In response to the Immaculate, they will fight with the weapons of prayer and penance and by triumphs of charity. Christian families must remain faithful to their vital mission in society, and, consecrate themselves in this jubilee year to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. For married couples this consecration will be a valuable aid in their conjugal duties of chastity and faithfulness and keep pure the atmosphere in which children grow up. Families inspired by devotion to Mary, are living centers of social rebirth and apostolic influence.[14]

                  Professional and civic affairs offer a vast field of Marian action. Gathered at the Virgin's feet, and open to her teachings, self- searching will uproot any false judgments and selfish impulses. Christians of every class and every nation will try to be of one mind in truth and charity, and to banish misunderstanding and suspicion. The quest for social and political peace among men is, above all, a moral problem, because no reform can bear fruit, no agreement lasting without a conversion and cleansing of heart. In this jubilee year the Virgin of Lourdes reminds all men of this truth [15] 

                  The poor and suffering

                  Pius XII teaches, that Mary looks upon some of her children with a special affection, the lowly, the poor, and the afflicted whom Jesus loved so much.
                  • Go to her, you who are crushed by material misery, defenseless against the hardships of life and the indifference of men. Go to her, you who are assailed by sorrows and moral trials. Go to her, beloved invalids and infirm, you who are sincerely welcomed and honored at Lourdes as the suffering members of our Lord. Go to her and receive peace of heart, strength for your daily duties, joy for the sacrifice you offer. [16]
                    The Pontiff states, that the Immaculate Virgin knows the secret ways by which grace operates in souls. She also knows also the great price which God attaches to sufferings, united to those of the Savior. These sufferings can greatly contribute. The encyclical closes with a quote of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux:
                    • Amid dangers, difficulties, and doubts, think of Mary, invoke Mary's aid.... If you follow her, you will not stray; if you entreat her, you will not lose hope; if you reflect upon her, you will not err; if she supports you, you will not fall; if she protects you, you will not fear; if she leads you, you will not grow weary; if she is propitious, you will reach your goal,.[17][18] 
                      Pope Pius XII is fully convinced, Mary will hear all prayers. In his last Marian encyclical, Pius XII imparts upon the faithful, the shrine of Lourdes and its pilgrims,” the most bounteous outpouring of grace with all Our heart, and with Our constant and paternal best wishes, the Apostolic Benediction.”[19]


                      • Pope Pius XII, Mariological encyclicals and bulls
                        • Encyclical Fulgens Corona on the Vatican website
                        • Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam on the Vatican website
                        • Encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae on the Vatican Website
                        • Encyclical Ingruentium Malorum on the Vatican website
                        • Encyclical Le Pelerinage de Lourdes on the Vatican website
                        • Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi on the Vatican website
                        • Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus on the Vatican Website
                      • Acta Apostolicae Sedis. (AAS), Vatican City 1939-1958. Official documents of the Pontificate of Pope Pius XII, Le Pelerinage de Lourdes AAS 49 (1957) 615
                          1. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 5
                          2. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 18
                          3. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 19-21
                          4. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 21
                          5. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 22
                          6. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 23
                          7. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 24
                          8. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 28
                          9. ^ Fulgens Corona
                          10. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 29
                          11. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 38
                          12. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 43
                          13. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 46,47
                          14. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 54
                          15. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 55
                          16. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 57
                          17. ^ ..Second Homily on the Missus est: PL CLXXXIII
                          18. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 70-71
                          19. ^ Le Pelerinage de Lourdes 72 73


                                Today's Snippet II:  Sanctuary of our Lady of Lourdes

                                The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes or the Domain (as it is most commonly known) is an area of ground surrounding the Catholic shrine (Grotto) to Our Lady of Lourdes in the town of Lourdes, France. The Sanctuary is a destination for pilgrimage; sick pilgrims are reputed to be miraculously healed by Lourdes water. This ground is owned and administrated by the Roman Catholic Church, and has several functions, including devotional activities, offices, and accommodation for sick pilgrims and their helpers. The Domain includes the Grotto itself, the nearby taps which dispense the Lourdes water, and the offices of the Lourdes Medical Bureau, as well as several churches and basilicas. It comprises an area of 51 hectares, and includes 22 separate places of worship.[1] There are six official languages of the Sanctuary: French, English, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and German.

                                Grottos intended as replicas of the one at Our Lady of Lourdes, and other grottos in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes, are often described as "Lourdes grottos".


                                The Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes is responsible for the spiritual governance of the Domain. He appoints a local representative, who is called the Rector. The Domain is run independently of the parish of Lourdes, which is responsible for the spiritual needs of the Lourdais themselves.

                                Thirty full-time chaplains work in the Domain, from dioceses and religious communities worldwide. As of 2010 there were 292 full-time lay employees and a further 120 seasonal employees working in 63 different divisions, with an annual running budget of €18 million, 90% from donations.[7]

                                The Domain is open all year round. In winter there are many fewer visitors, a reduced timetable of services and devotional activity, and no processions. The winter season runs from 1 November (the feast of All Saints) until Easter.[8] On 11 February, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, a full programme of activities usually takes place.

                                The Domain is fully active between Easter and All Saints each year, and has a programme of devotional activities including Mass, processions (see below), Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Many activities are carried out in several languages; in some services the liturgy is repeated in different languages.

                                The grounds are open daily from 5am until midnight;[9] outside these times the Grotto is accessible via the Lacets Gate behind the Upper Basilica.

                                An estimated 200 million people have visited the shrine since 1860 [3]. The Roman Catholic Church has officially recognized 67 miracle healings, the 67th of which was the cure of Anna Santaniello in 1952, recognised on 9 November 2005. [4]

                                About 800 tonnes of wax is burnt annually in devotional candles.[10] The Domain publishes the monthly Lourdes Magazine, with news and featured articles about the Domain and Lourdes generally

                                Lourdes water

                                "anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never thirst again: the water that I shall give will turn into a spring within them, welling up to eternal life."                         (John 4:14) 

                                Lourdes water flows from a spring at the same spot where it was discovered by Bernadette. The original spring can be seen within the Grotto, lit from below and protected by a glass screen.

                                Pilgrims drink Lourdes water due to its reputed healing power. The water from Lourdes was thoroughly analysed by independent chemists in 1858 and 1859, and does not appear to have a latent power to cure and has no special scientific or medicinal properties.

                                Despite this, the water is itself a strong symbol of devotion for Lourdes pilgrims, and many buy statues and rosary beads containing small vials of it, and take home large plastic containers of it.


                                Each year about 350,000 pilgrims bathe in the water at the baths (Piscines).[11]


                                A quote from the Bible, dealing with the crowd
                                After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, Revelations (7:9) 
                                Who comes to Lourdes? Pilgrimss, Tourists, children, teenagers, parents, grand-parents, healthy people, sick or disabled people, God seekers or believers from different religions...

                                For over 150 years, the crowd is always there, coming from all the continents . The world success of Lourdes, however,was not written in advance. In the Pyrenees, a young poor and ignorant visionnary girl transmits penance messages that she doesn't always understand. She says a "beautiful lady" gives her these messages. During the first apparition, on 11th February 1858, Bernadette is only accompanied by her sister: Toinette and her friend: Jeanne Abadie. In a few weeks, Lourdes becomes the “city of miracles”. Hundreds, then thousands of curious people come from the surroundings.

                                At the period of the apparitions, many people laugh at the sick and healthy believers coming to pray  in this dirty place- the Grotto is out of the town - and rather inaccessible. After the official recognition of the Apparitions in 1862, the first local pilgrimages get organized. "The fact of Lourdes" becomes very controversial. Medias come to Lourdes. So do the crowd.

                                The celebrity of Lourdes becomes international in the early years of the twentieth century. After World War 2, the world needs reconciliation. And in Lourdes, all differences are overcome: those that are linked with  the color of the skin, language, culture, age, wealth, poverty, handicap, and disease.

                                Processions are held in the Domain, with the Torchlight Procession being perhaps the best-known and most visually impressive.

                                Blessed Sacrament Procession

                                The Blessed Sacrament procession is held daily at 4.30pm. The procession begins at the open-air altar in the Prairie, and is usually led by a priest or bishop carrying a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament. Typically the bearer of the Blessed Sacrament is sheltered from the elements by a mobile awning carried by four assistants.

                                The exact order of the procession varies from time to time. The Blessed Sacrament may be preceded by bearers carrying leafy branches, incense burners or other devotional items. These bearers are usually lay people who may be invited specially. The Blessed Sacrament is usually followed by a group of priests who concelebrate the rite. Following these are groups of pilgrims, usually under a group banner, and in no particular order, although larger groups tend to dominate the procession near the front.

                                The procession makes its way across the Gave, alongside the ramps, and past the Crowned Statue, along the Esplanade to the Cross at the far end, and then around it, and down into the Underground Basilica (where participants may be seated). Pilgrims in wheelchairs are brought to the front in each case.

                                During the procession there are meditations, prayers, hymns and chants, in several languages. When all the participants have assembled, there follows a period of Eucharistic Adoration, and the Blessing of the Sick.[12]

                                Torchlight Procession

                                Rosary Basilica at night, looking across Rosary Square during the Torchlight Procession
                                The Torchlight Marian Procession takes place daily at 8.45pm. It begins outside the Grotto and follows the same route as the Blessed Sacrament Procession. In extreme weather an indoor ceremony may be held in the Underground Basilica instead.

                                The procession is led by pilgrims bearing a replica of the Cabuchet Statue of the Virgin Mary. As before, groups usually proceed together under their group banner. Most participants carry a candle with a paper shade which diffuses the light and makes the candle less likely to blow out.

                                The focus of this procession is the rosary. All five decades are recited, usually in a variety of languages. The Lourdes Hymn is also sung, with verses in different languages. Intercessions may be invoked followed by the Laudate Mariam. There is a final blessing in Latin, and then an invitation to exchange the Sign of peace with fellow pilgrims.[13]

                                Main churches of the Domain



                                The Crypt was the first of the churches to be completed in the Domain, and is today among the smallest. Construction was started by Abbé Peyramale and Mgr. Laurence. Bernadette's father worked on its construction and was present at its official opening, on Pentecost Sunday, 1866.

                                The nave is small and a notable feature are the enormous pillars which support the weight of the Upper Basilica, which was constructed on top of it. The Crypt is entered along a corridor, whose entrance is dominated by a large bronze statue of St. Peter, holding the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Opposite stands a statue of Pius X. The walls of the corridor and nave are lined with small marble plaques, known as ex voto plaques, donated in thanks of spiritual favours received.[14]

                                Upper Basilica

                                The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, known widely as the Upper Basilica, was the second of the churches to be completed, consecrated in 1876. It is an impressive, elaborate building in Gothic style, designed by architect Hyppolyte Durand, and on one side seems to emerge directly from the rock of Massabielle (the sanctuary is directly above the Grotto). The walls are lined with ex voto plaques, and banners from official National Pilgrimages of the past. It has a series of stained-glass windows depicting various events in the story of Lourdes; the clerestory windows depict Mary as the Second Eve.

                                The exterior is dominated by a 70m spire, and two lesser spires (not completed until 1908). Above the entrance is a mosaic depicting Pope Pius IX, who defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854.[15]

                                Rosary Basilica

                                The Rosary Basilica is the third of the churches to be completed, in 1899 and designed by architect Leopold Hardy. It was consecrated in 1901 and has a capacity of 1,500 worshippers. Its style is influenced by Byzantine architecture. The nave is open and circular, surmounted by a dome. The exterior of the dome is surmounted by a dramatic gilded crown and cross, which were a gift from the people of Ireland in 1924. The exterior facade of the basilica was modified in 2007 to include a depiction of the Luminous Mysteries, which were added to the traditional fifteen by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

                                Crowned Statue and Rosary Square

                                Looking out onto Rosary Square from the roof of the Basilica
                                The open space in front of the Rosary Basilica is known as Rosary Square. The entrances to the Crypt and the Upper Basilica, both of which are built on top of Massabielle, are far above ground level. To facilitate access, two enormous ramps were constructed, which curve down either side of Rosary Square. The image of the entrance of the Rosary Basilica, flanked by the two ramps and surmounted by the spires of the Upper Basilica, has become one of the iconic symbols of Lourdes, and a stylised form of this image has been adopted by the Domain itself as its logo.

                                The Statue of the Crowned Virgin, often known as the "Crowned Statue" (French: La Vierge Couronnée), stands across Rosary Square from the Rosary Basilica and faces the entrance. This prominent statue is a familiar landmark and a traditional meeting point. The statue is 2.5m high and cast in bronze, painted white and blue in the traditional colours. Her rosary is of the Birgittine style and incorporates six decades.[16] Behind the Crowned Statue is the Esplanade, a large open walkway which is used in the processions.

                                Underground Basilica

                                The Basilica of St. Pius X, known as the Underground Basilica, is the largest and most controversial of the Domain's churches. It was designed by the architect Pierre Vago and completed in 1958 in anticipation of the enormous crowds expected in Lourdes for the centenary of the Apparitions. A modern, concrete building, it is almost entirely underground (part of the building lies beneath the Boulevard Père Rémi Sempé above). When full it can accommodate 25,000 worshippers.

                                The Underground Basilica is stylistically very different from the previous two basilicas. The concrete of its construction has been left bare throughout, making it gloomy and uninviting inside, and it draws comparisons with an underground carpark. Therefore, although it provided a practical solution to the problem of accommodating very large numbers, it remains unpopular with many visitors to Lourdes.

                                Church of St. Bernadette

                                The most recent of the major centres of worship is the Church of St. Bernadette, which was consecrated in 1988. It was built opposite the Grotto across the Gave, on the spot where Bernadette stood during the final (18th) Apparition.

                                The Church of St. Bernadette is a modern building with comparatively little adornment. It was designed to allow as much natural light as possible into the nave, and light-coloured materials have been used, making it noticeably brighter than the Underground Basilica. It was designed by the architect Jean-Paul Felix.

                                It is also a more versatile building. The nave has provision for 5,000 seated worshippers and 350 wheelchairs, but partitions can be drawn which divide the nave into smaller sections. In addition, it includes the Hemicycle, a large lecture room which may be used for worship, and an assortment of conference rooms and smaller rooms which may be used for devotional or non-devotional activity.[17]

                                Chapel of Reconciliation

                                The Chapel of Reconciliation formerly occupied a site slightly more remote, at the entrance of the Upper Stations of the Cross. It was moved several years ago into a more prominent position, into the building previously known as the Accueil Notre Dame, near the Crowned Statue and facing the Esplanade.

                                The Chapel of Reconciliation is somewhat unusual in that no masses or other services take place there; instead it is given over entirely to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Priests from different countries observe a duty roster, which means that, at almost any time of day, pilgrims from Europe (and occasionally further away) can find a priest who will hear their confession in their own language.

                                St. Joseph's Chapel

                                St. Joseph's Chapel is situated at the far end of the Esplanade, near St. Michael's Gate. It is a modern, concrete church, mostly underground, with little natural light. It was also designed by Pierre Vago, and was consecrated on 1 May 1968. It has provision for 450 seated worshippers and 80 wheelchairs.[18]


                                The Grotto of Massabielle
                                The Bible tells us that God is our rock. He is the rock on whom we can rely.

                                "My God is the rock where I take refuge. Long life to the Lord, my rock"

                                 In contrast to the grandness of Rosary Square and the various basilicas, the grotto at Massabielle where St Bernadette's visions took place is very simple and stark. The recess of the grotto itself is undecorated, although a plain stone altar and lectern have been placed there so that Mass can be said. Above the main recess is the niche where the apparitions took place and Fabisch's statue now stands. A large stand of candles next to the altar is kept burning during the season.

                                The spring Bernadette is said to have dug can be seen at the rear of the grotto, shielded by a glass cover. Pilgrims can process through the grotto and it is traditional to touch the rocks directly under the statue; indeed so many people have done this that the stones have become polished. Also at the rear of the grotto is a metal box into which written prayers or petitions may be deposited; they are collected daily and burnt.

                                Rows of benches allow visitors to sit and pray or contemplate. Pilgrims are asked to remain silent while in the vicinity to create an atmosphere of devotion. One of the spots where Bernadette prayed to the Virgin is marked by a special paving slab.

                                Some of the rock walls around the grotto bear clear signs of deliberate alteration, presumably to improve access for pilgrims. It is no longer clear what the original configuration of the grotto was.

                                At least one contemporary account describes a series of chambers behind the statue's niche, which can only be reached by climbing "like a lizard" through clefts in the rocks.[19]

                                The actions that Bernadette carried out were the actions of freeing something. The Grotto was choked with grass and mud. But why does she free this Grotto? Because it hides an immense treasure, which must be brought out into the open. Thus, at the ninth Apparition, "the Lady" asked Bernadette to scrape the ground, at the back of this "pigs’ shelter", saying to her: "Go to the spring, drink of it and wash yourself there". There is only a little muddy water to begin with, enough for Bernadette to drink. At first this water is muddy and dirty then, little by little, it becomes clear.

                                By these actions, the mystery of the heart of Jesus is revealed for us: "A soldier pierced his heart with his lance and there immediately flowed out blood and water." It is, as well, the depths of the mystery of the heart of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God: "The water that I shall give you will become, in you, a spring welling up to eternal life". The grass and the mud signify the human heart, wounded by sin. But in the bottom of this heart, there is the life of God, as signified by the spring

                                Bernadette was asked: 'Did the Lady say something to you?' She replied: 'Yes, now and again she would say: "Penance, penance, penance, pray for sinners". By penance we understand conversion. Conversion in the Church, as we learn from Christ, involves turning our heart towards God and towards others. "Pray for sinners". Praying brings us to the Spirit of God. Thus we understand that sin does not make us happy. We must understand that sin is something that is contrary to the love of God that is revealed to us through the Gospel.

                                Accueils and hospitals

                                A quote from the Bible dealing with the sick and the hospitaliers

                                "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
                                Gospel of Matthhew (25:40)

                                Across the river from the grotto and the churches is the Accueil Notre Dame, a modern facility built in 1996 to house sick pilgrims during their time in Lourdes.

                                The Accueil Notre Dame was built to replace the two older Accueils that were present within the Domain. The old Accueil Notre Dame stood opposite the Underground Basilica, and has been extensively remodelled, being divided into two buildings by removing a section. One building now contains the Chapel of Reconciliation, which used to be the refectory, and also houses the convent of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers. The other section is now known as the Accueil John Paul II, and contains several chapels (e.g. St Cosmos & St Damien), the First Aid post and Dispensary, and the offices of the Hospitalité. The other was the Accueil St. Bernadette, which stood across the river from the old Accueil Notre Dame, and was demolished to make way for the new one.

                                Since Easter 1997 sick pilgrims from all over the world have been housed in the Accueil Notre Dame, an airy modern building. The Accueil is organised into two wings, each consisting of six storeys, with the Reception area on the ground floor and the Transit Lounge on the fifth. Each floor from one to four is named after a specific saint, with female saints honoured on one side and male ones on the other. Each floor has a central refectory area where pilgrims congregate to eat.

                                The rooms, each with bathroom and shower, accommodate from one to six people. Each room has a window, with some fortunate ones having a view of the Grotto, and storage cupboards and a table and chairs. Each room opens onto a communal area.

                                Linking the two sides is the Administration Area, with two panoramic lifts bringing visitors to each floor. The administration offices are on the sixth and seventh floors, and there are kitchens for each side.

                                Typically pilgrims arrive at the Accueil Notre Dame in buses from Lourdes airport or train station, and will be welcomed in the transit lounge on the 5th floor. From there they are taken to their rooms. Pilgrims also depart from the transit lounge.

                                Another accueil, the Accueil Marie St. Frai, is located a short distance outside the domain; it is similar in design and atmosphere to the Accueil Notre Dame.


                                Across the Gave from the Grotto is a wide, open, uncluttered space covered with grass and known in French as the 'prairie, or in English, the meadow.

                                In the corner of the prairie is the tent-like Chapel of Adoration, consecrated in 1995 and given over entirely to veneration of the Blessed Sacrament, and there is an open-air altar for outdoor ceremonies in fine weather.

                                In 2002 the Water Walk was introduced, across the Gave and slightly downstream from the Grotto. It consists of a series of nine stations at which there is a small Lourdes water font.

                                Candles and Brulières

                                A brulière full of devotional candles
                                This is the Light of Christ.

                                "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in the darkness but will have the light of life"
                                (John 8:12)

                                 A further iconic image of Lourdes is the tall, conical stand containing votive candles which are burnt constantly in the Grotto. Pilgrims may purchase candles (white, with a blue base) to be burnt here as a devotional gesture, or bring their own. Candles of many different sizes may be burnt in the Domain; the largest are two metres tall and require more than one person to lift them—such candles are usually bought by groups of pilgrims, and typically burn continuously for over a week.

                                Near the Grotto, millions of candles  continuously burn since 19th February 1858. That day, Bernadette arrived at the Grotto with a blessed candle that kept burning in her hand until the end of the apparition. Before she left, the Virgin Mary asked her to let the candle burn at the Grotto. The same day, a few people came to the Grotto to burn candles. This tradtion has never ceased.The candles offered by the pilgrims keep burning day and night. Burning a candle at the Grotto does not replace a prayer, but it's a tangible sign supporting a secret demand, an offering or an acknowledgement.

                                Each year, 700 tons of candles burn for you and those who have not been able to come . The volutes of smoke represent millions of intentions of prayers and wishes. Also, light is a very important sign in the sacred history. The bible talks about sin as captivity and darkness. On the opposite, Jesus-Christ brings deliverance and illumination. This is why priests bless the flame and the light of the candles during the celebration of Easter, before blessing the water for baptism. Even if they are not aware of this, the pilgrims and visitors in procession with a candle in their hand know it expresses a kind of hope.

                                For safety as well as convenience, candles are burnt together in large metal stands called brulières.  Pilgrims may light their own candles, or leave candles to be burnt later. The brulières are tended by feutiers, attendants whose job is to ensure candles are burnt safely and evenly, and to remove the trays of melted wax which collects under each brulière.

                                Scepticism and criticism

                                Since the earliest of the apparitions, Lourdes has been the subject of intense debate regarding their nature. The earliest investigators, including the priest Abbé Dominique Peyramale and the Chief of Police, Dominique Jacomet, were both initially convinced they were dealing with a hoax (each later changed his mind), and several researchers have since called several aspects of the Lourdes phenomenon into question.
                                The apparitions at Lourdes took place against the backdrop of a rich network of popular piety, which was common throughout the Pyrenean region in the 19th century. In the decades leading up to 1858, several children in small Pyrenean villages (on both sides of the border) claimed to see apparitions of the Virgin Mary in remote locations. Some consider that Bernadette was simply repeating a well-tried trick to gain attention and notoriety. Others argue that this is not likely, since Bernadette claimed the Lady called herself "the Immaculate Conception", a name which she had no way of knowing.

                                Although Bernadette herself shunned attention and personal gain from the apparitions, it is clear that her family, previously in severe poverty, became very wealthy and influential as a result. Critics argue that the family encouraged Bernadette in order to escape their poverty.

                                Modern Lourdes has no shortage of glitz on display. Some visitors may dislike the commercialism of parts of Lourdes, with neon-emblazoned gift shops overflowing with what Malcolm Muggeridge, a supporter of the shrine, called "tawdry relics, the bric-a-brac of piety".[20] Lourdes has been called the "Disneyland of the Catholic Church". Critics argue that the Lourdes phenomenon is nothing more than a significant money-spinner for the town and the region, which therefore has a strong vested interest in keeping the pilgrims coming.[21] The church, however, distances itself from commercialisation. The many trinket stalls are privately owned, and hawkers are strictly forbidden inside the sanctuary.

                                Many people remain sceptical about Lourdes and its supposed healing power, arguing that any improvement offered by the shrine is no more than the placebo effect, and that the ceremonies and processions are no better than faith-healing on a grand scale. Richard Dawkins, British evolutionary biologist and atheist, expressed scepticism about the healing ability of Lourdes in his documentary The Root of All Evil?, noting the lack of statistical evidence that there have been any miraculous healings. Dawkins also points out that the cures are invariably for ailments that may have healed naturally (nobody has reported a miraculous regrowing of a missing limb, for example).[22]

                                Official Website of the Sanctuary if our Lady of Lourdes:


                                      1. ^
                                      2. ^ Ruth Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 52.
                                      3. ^ Ruth Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 53.
                                      4. ^ Oliver Todd, The Lourdes Pilgrim, Matthew James Publishing, 2003, p. 41.
                                      5. ^ Ruth Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 365.
                                      6. ^ Ruth Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 365.
                                      7. ^ Lourdes website: The Domain, accessed 17 March 2010
                                      8. ^ Oliver Todd, The Lourdes Pilgrim, Matthew James Publishing, 2003, p. 52-3.
                                      9. ^ Oliver Todd, The Lourdes Pilgrim, Matthew James Publishing, 2003, p. 77.
                                      10. ^ Oliver Todd, The Lourdes Pilgrim, Matthew James Publishing, 2003, p. 41.
                                      11. ^
                                      12. ^ Oliver Todd, The Lourdes Pilgrim, Matthew James Publishing, 2003, p. 151.
                                      13. ^ Oliver Todd, The Lourdes Pilgrim, Matthew James Publishing, 2003, p. 155.
                                      14. ^ Oliver Todd, The Lourdes Pilgrim, Matthew James Publishing, 2003, p. 42-3.
                                      15. ^ Oliver Todd, The Lourdes Pilgrim, Matthew James Publishing, 2003, p. 43.
                                      16. ^ Oliver Todd, The Lourdes Pilgrim, Matthew James Publishing, 2003, p. 41.
                                      17. ^ Oliver Todd, The Lourdes Pilgrim, Matthew James Publishing, 2003, p. 45.
                                      18. ^ Oliver Todd, The Lourdes Pilgrim, Matthew James Publishing, 2003, p. 46.
                                      19. ^ Ruth Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Penguin Books, 1999.
                                      20. ^ Muggeridge contrasts the "tawdry relics, the bric-a-brac of piety" with the spiritual phenomena he describes experiencing in Lourdes. (Jesus Rediscovered, A Visit To Lourdes, Fontana 1969.[1]
                                      21. ^ "Consuming Visions--Mass Culture and the Lourdes Shrine, Suzanne Kaufman", Book reviewed by Lawrence S. Cunningham University of Notre Dame, Commonweal 23 September 2005.[2]
                                      22. ^ BBC collective: Review of "The Root of all Evil?"


                                                Catechism of the Catholic Church

                                                Part One: Profession of Faith, Sect 2 The Creeds, Ch 2 Art 2:2

                                                CHAPTER TWO
                                                I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY SON OF GOD

                                                ARTICLE 2
                                                "AND IN JESUS CHRIST, HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD" 

                                                II. Christ
                                                436 The word "Christ" comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means "anointed". It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that "Christ" signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets.Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; 1 Sam 9:16; 10:1; 16:1, 12-13; I Kings 1:39; 19:16. This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively.s 2:2; Acts 4:26-27 It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet.Is 11:2; 61:1; Zech 4:14; 6:13; Lk 4:16-21 Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.

                                                437 To the shepherds, the angel announced the birth of Jesus as the Messiah promised to Israel: "To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord."Lk 2:11 From the beginning he was "the one whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world", conceived as "holy" in Mary's virginal womb.Jn 10:36; cf. Lk 1:35 God called Joseph to "take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit", so that Jesus, "who is called Christ", should be born of Joseph's spouse into the messianic lineage of David.Mt 1:20; cf. 1:16; Rom 1:1; 2 Tim 2:8; Rev 22:16

                                                438 Jesus' messianic consecration reveals his divine mission, "for the name 'Christ' implies 'he who anointed', 'he who was anointed' and 'the very anointing with which he was anointed'. the one who anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the anointing.'"St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3,18,3: PG 7/1, 934 His eternal messianic consecration was revealed during the time of his earthly life at the moment of his baptism by John, when "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power", "that he might be revealed to Israel"Acts 10:38; Jn 1:31 as its Messiah. His works and words will manifest him as "the Holy One of God".Mk 1:24; Jn 6:69; Acts 3:14

                                                439 Many Jews and even certain Gentiles who shared their hope recognized in Jesus the fundamental attributes of the messianic "Son of David", promised by God to Israel.Mt 2:2; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9.15 Jesus accepted his rightful title of Messiah, though with some reserve because it was understood by some of his contemporaries in too human a sense, as essentially political.Jn 4:25-26; 6:15; 11:27; Mt 22:41-46; Lk 24:21

                                                440 Jesus accepted Peter's profession of faith, which acknowledged him to be the Messiah, by announcing the imminent Passion of the Son of Man. Mt 16:16-23 He unveiled the authentic content of his messianic kingship both in the transcendent identity of the Son of Man "who came down from heaven", and in his redemptive mission as the suffering Servant: "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."Jn 3:13; Mt 20:28; cf. Jn 6:62; Dan 7:13; Is 53:10-12 Hence the true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross.n 19:19-22; Lk 23:39-43 Only after his Resurrection will Peter be able to proclaim Jesus' messianic kingship to the People of God: "Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."Acts 2:36