Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Our Lady of Lourdes

In the year 2002, I was privileged to visit Lourdes for the first and only time, so far. I was spending an extended few weeks in Malta and was asked to accompany a group of Maltese pilgrims as their chaplain for a week. What impressed me the most was the holiness of the entire place, and even though the sanctuary and its grounds extended to a few square miles, once you entered the gates, it was like entering a church - everyone was reverent, respectful of each other, and of course there was a mystical aura of prayer all around. I was also privileged to lead one decade of the Rosary in Maltese while pilgrims walked aux flambeaux around the promenade, leading to the sanctuary.
The Basilica at Lourdes
The Marian Apparitions at Lourdes were reported in 1858 by Saint Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old miller's daughter from the town of Lourdes in southern France. From February 11 to July 16, 1858, she reported 18 apparitions of "a Lady," and despite initial skepticism from the Catholic Church, these claims were eventually declared to be worthy of belief after a canonical investigation, and the apparitions were approved by Pope Pius IX in 1862. So far 69 miracles have been scientifically approved, and between 6 to 8 million pilgrims visit Lourdes every year.

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