The Story of Lourdes
On February 11, 1858, 14 year old Bernadette Soubirous was searching for firewood at the River Gave near Lourdes in southwestern France. She heard a rustling sound coming from a hillside cave, and when she looked up, she saw a beautiful lady in a white dress with a blue sash. The lady, who was holding a rosary, made the sign of the cross, and Bernadette did the same with her own rosary. As Bernadette prayed, the lady let the beads slip through her fingers, but said nothing.
At the lady’s request, Bernadette kept returning to the cave where her visions recurred seventeen times. The lady instructed Bernadette to drink from a spring which the girl discovered by scraping dirt from a damp spot near the cave. The lady told Bernadette that believers must pray and do penance for the conversion of sinners. When asked for her name, the lady said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
After the spring emerged, miracles of healing occurred when the sick were washed in its waters, and people began coming to Lourdes in great numbers. Within a few years, churches and hospitals were built to accommodate pilgrims and those in need of healing. Since 1858, thousands have been cured of physical afflictions. For example, a young Italian soldier, near death from cancer that had destroyed his hip and pelvic bone, was brought to Lourdes on May 27, 1963. After being placed in the spring water, he felt better and wanted to eat. Soon he was walking around his hospital room. X-rays showed that he had grown a new hip! This miracle was reported by Reader’s Digest, April 1982, in an article, “Vittorio Micheli’s Pilgrimage to Lourdes.”
Such miracles at Lourdes have turned skeptics into believers, and believers have received untold blessings. As members of the Association of the Miraculous Medal, we have special reason to honor Our Lady of Lourdes and pray for such blessings. Bernadette was wearing a Miraculous Medal when Mary appeared to her. Mary identified herself at Lourdes as “The Immaculate Conception.”