February 11 commemorates the apparition of Mary in 1858 to St. Bernadette Soubirous in a small grotto outside Lourdes, France. At the time, St. Bernadette only knew her as “the lady” because she did not know her name. When Bernadette asked for a name, the lady responded that she was “the Immaculate Conception.” The dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception (that she was conceived without original sin) had just been proclaimed by Pope Pious IX three years earlier. The feast of Our Lady of Lourdes has been celebrated since 1907, and Lourdes continues to be an important site for pilgrimage, with more than 60 miraculous healings confirmed by church authorities. Our Lady of Lourdes is the patron saint of bodily ills.
“For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.” — from the film The Song of Bernadette
Questions for Reflection:
Though there have been more than 60 official healings, about 7,000 people have brought their healings forward to be examined as miraculous after a visit to Lourdes. The Marion apparitions and healings at Lourdes are considered private revelations and not a required belief for Catholics. What do you think about them? Do you think that God performs miracles in the world today?