In Lourdes, France, in 1844 a baby girl named Bernadette Soubirous was born. Bernadette’s family was very poor, and Bernadette was responsible for looking after and caring for her brothers and sisters. The only education Bernadette received was the Catholic teachings which she studied faithfully in the evenings.
At the age of thirteen, Bernadette was preparing for her First Holy Communion. One of Bernadette’s chores was to collect wood for the fire. One day in February 1858, Bernadette and two companions headed for the River Gave to collect pieces of wood. Bernadette looked up towards the grotto and the caves on the riverbank. Near the opening of the grotto, Bernadette glanced and noticed the cave was suddenly filled with golden light. Lifting her eyes, she saw a lady of great beauty, dressed in a pure white robe with a blue sash, a veil over her head, a rosary clasped in her hands and yellow roses at her feet. Bernadette rubbed her eyes. What a beautiful lady! But where did she come from? And what was she doing here?
The beautiful lady smiled at Bernadette and asked her to say her rosary. Bernadette said her prayers and when she was finished, she looked up, the lady had vanished. The third time Bernadette went to the grotto, the lady spoke to her. The beautiful lady asked Bernadette to come here every day for fifteen days. She said that she wanted Bernadette to tell the priests to build a chapel there. She told her to drink water from the stream. The lady also told Bernadette to pray for the conversion of sinners. Bernadette followed the requests.
On March 25, the Lady finally told Bernadette that she was Mary, the mother of Jesus, and that her purpose in appearing to Bernadette was to warn her to pray and make sacrifices for sinners. The miracles of body and soul performed at Lourdes are the proof that this message was a true warning from the Queen of Heaven to her children and that she was deeply interested in their welfare.
Eventually everyone did believe Bernadette and the grotto at Lourdes became a place of worship and the Lourdes holy water was sacred for performing miracles.
Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes
Oh ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick,
Refuge of Sinners, Comfortess of the Afflicted,
you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings.
Look upon me with mercy.
When you appeared in the grotto of Lourdes,
you made it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favours,
and where many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities,
both spiritual and corporal.
I come, therefore, with unbounded confidence
to implore your maternal intercession.
My loving Mother, obtain my request.
I will try to imitate your virtues so that I may one day share
your company and bless you in eternity.