Who is Our Lady of Lourdes?
Monday, Feb. 11, is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Our Lady of Lourdes is one many titles given to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is given to her in memory of her apparition to Bernadette Soubiroux at Lourdes, France in 1858.
In honor of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI is offering a plenary indulgence for those who visit the shrine in France through Dec. 8. For those of us who cannot get to France, a plenary indulgence is also being offered for those who visit a blessed image of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes solemnly displayed for public veneration in any church, oratory, grotto or suitable place.
Some people reading this blog might not understand what an indulgence is. Let me provide a few links to understand the teaching of the Catholic Church about indulgences:
Another explanation of indulgences (very in-depth from Jimmy Akin)
During her 18 appearances to Bernadette, the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed herself with the words: “I am the Immaculate Conception”. This is a remarkable fact, considering the timing of the events. Just four years prior to the apparitions, Pope Pius IX, in his Constitution Ineffibilis Deus, defined this very dogma. It is highly unlikely that a poor, young peasant girl had any knowledge of this. The fact that the Blessed Virgin announced herself under this title underscored the truth of our Catholic understanding of the role of Mary.
(Photo taken from http://picasaweb.google.com/taerim.han)
Additionally, the Blessed Virgin also told Bernadette to drink from the spring of water in the grotto where the appearances took place. However, there was no spring visible. Bernadette obediently dug and water began to flow, a spring miraculously appearing where previously there was none. Today, millions of pilgrims travel to visit the Grotto of Lourdes and wash themselves in this miraculous water. There have been a great many healings – both spiritual and physical – that have occurred, and continue to occur. There are thousands of cases of physical healings that cannot be explained, except to say that they are miracles.