Posted in IGNATIAN/JESUIT - Reflections, Jesuit Saints and more, MIRACLES, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 3 December – The Memorial of St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552) – “A near perfect imitation of Christ”

Thought for the Day – 3 December – The Memorial of St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552)

“A near perfect imitation of Christ”

Francis Xavier believed no one was more ill-equipped than he to take the gospel overseas.   But he was wrong.   En route from Lisbon to Goa, Francis already displayed the cheerfulness and generosity that would become the trademarks of his work.  Through his personal charm, he made friends with the toughest seamen on the ship. Then he engaged them in “apostolic conversations,” seeking to win them for Christ.

But Miracles, occurred frequently in his evangelisation to poor villages.   Once, while travelling through a pagan territory, Francis learned of a woman who had been in labour for three days and was probably near death.   Midwives and sorcerers were treating her with superstitious incantations.   Xavier went to the woman’s home and called on the name of Christ to heal her.   “I began with the Creed,” he wrote to Ignatius, “which my companion translated into Tamil.   By the mercy of God, the woman came to believe in the articles of faith.   I asked whether she desired to become a Christian and she replied that she would most willingly become one.   Then I read excerpts from the Gospels in that house where, I think, they were never heard before.   I then baptised the woman.” As soon as Francis baptised the woman, she was healed and gave birth to a healthy baby.

The woman’s family was so touched by this divine intervention that they invited Francis to instruct and baptise all of them, including the newborn.   News then travelled quickly throughout the village.   A representative of the Raja, the overlord, gave the village elders clearance to allow Francis to proclaim Christ there.   “First, I baptised the chief men of the place and their families,” he wrote, “and afterwards the rest of the people, young and old.”

In another village, crowds besieged Francis, begging him to pray for ailing family members.   Missionary and teaching duties overwhelmed him, so he enlisted some enthusiastic children to minister to the sick.   He sent the children to the homes of the ill and had them gather the family and neighbours.   He trained them to proclaim the creed and to assure the sick that if they believed, they would be cured.   Thus, Xavier not only responded to requests for prayer but he managed to spread Christian doctrine throughout the village.   Because the sick and their families had faith, he said, “God has shown great mercy to them, healing them in both body and soul.”   The children of the village had become little miracle workers.

In his passion for spreading the gospel, in his simple obedience, in his humble disregard for himself, the saint was a near perfect imitation of Christ!

St Francis Xavier, Teach us, Inspire us, Help us,

Pray for Us!st francis xavier pray for us 3 dec 2018

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Posted in MARIAN DEVOTIONS, MARIAN PRAYERS, MARIAN QUOTES, MARIAN TITLES, MIRACLES, MORNING Prayers, PAPAL DECREE, SAINT of the DAY, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, YouTube Videos

Thought for the Day – 27 June – The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour

Thought for the Day – 27 June – The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour ( Under the Protection of the Redemptiorists – CSsr)mother of perpetual help

An artist about to paint an icon prepares himself spiritually by prayer, confession, Holy Communion and sometimes fasting.   He prays even while painting, for he sees himself as an instrument of the Holy Spirit, the principal artist, Who will use the icon as an instrument to channel graces to those who reverence it and pray before it.   In most cases, the artist does not even sign his name to his work.

In Western art, there is little difference in the styles used in sacred art as compared to secular art;  only the subject matter is different.   Icons, however, are not meant to be realistic as far as physical representation, but rather to portray eternal truths in a way that immediately transports the viewer to a spiritual plane.   Perhaps the simplest way to describe it is as theology in line and colour.   The images are rendered in an extremely stylised, non-naturalistic way.   The folds of garments appear as simple geometric forms, while faces and bodies show portray human nature transformed by grace into the divine.

In the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, the Child Jesus is not portrayed with the physical proportions of an infant but appears almost as an adult in miniature form.   This has been interpreted to indicate that He is God, having infinite knowledge.   Yet He is human as well, for He clings to His Mother’s hand in fear, while gazing up toward the angel over His shoulder.   One of His sandals has come loose, indicating the haste with which He had run to her.

Why is the Child Jesus so frightened?   The angels in the picture are holding instruments of His Passion and death, with the angel on the left bearing the gall, the lance and the reed, while the angel on the right holds the cross and nails.   Their hands are covered with a cloth or veil, much like the humeral veil that the priest holds when blessing with the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance at Benediction.

The face of Our Lady is grave and sorrowful, with her large eyes directed not at Jesus, but at us.   One feels that she is pleading with us to avoid sin, which has caused her Son to suffer so much for us.   Her gaze makes us a part of the picture and the pain it portrays.   “Will you not love my Son, Who has loved you so much?” she seems to say.

Our Lady is clothed in the colours of royalty; her tunic is of dark red and her mantle is dark blue with a green lining.   (According to another interpretation, the dark red is said to be the colour worn by virgins at the time of Christ, while blue was the colour worn by mothers in Palestine.)   The Child Jesus also wears the colours of royalty.   Both Jesus and Mary have golden halos, but Christ’s halo is decorated with a cross as a sign of His Divinity and Passion.   Jewelled crowns were placed on the heads of both Mother and Child of the original icon by order of the Vatican in 1867.   (The crowns were removed when the icon underwent restoration in the 1990’s.)

The Greek initials next to the head of Our Lady identify her as “Mother of God,” while those next to the Child are the abbreviation for “Jesus Christ.”   The letters over the angels’ heads indicate the one on the left as St Michael and the one on the right as S. Gabriel.

The 8-pointed star on Our Lady’s veil tells us that she is the Star of the Sea, the Star that leads us to Jesus.   The small ornate cross to the left of the star reinforces this concept.

Mary’s mouth is small to indicate her spirit of silence and prayer.   Her eyes are large, for they see all of our troubles and needs and are always turned toward us.

Christ’s hands, turned palms down into His Mother’s, indicate that He has placed the graces of the Redemption in her keeping.   Our Lady’s hand does not clasp those of her Son but remains open, inviting us to put our hands in hers along with those of Jesus.

As in other icons, the background of the painting is gold to symbolize Heaven, where Jesus and Mary now reign in glory.   This light of Heaven shines through their clothing, illuminating not only the picture itself but those who behold it.   This radiance speaks to us of God’s light and grace, strengthening and consoling us as we journey through life to our heavenly goal.

Finally, it is of no small significance that Our Blessed Mother herself referred to the icon by the title of “Holy Mary of Perpetual Succour.”   Surely this, along with the symbolism we see in the picture, should assure us of the loving concern and tenderness our Blessed Mother has for us and her ardent desire to be a source of perpetual help to all who call upon her.

In answer to Pope Pius IX’s injunction to “make her known,” the Redemptorists commissioned several artists to paint copies of the original icon.   More than 2,300 such copies, similarly touched to the original, have been sent to other houses of the order around the world.   Pope Pius IX also received a copy, which he enshrined in his private chapel and was often seen kneeling before it in prayer.   (Excerpt from Sister Mary Agatha, CMRI)
Part of the tradition is that Mary had made it clear that she wished her image to be situated between the great basilicas of St John Lateran (the Pope’s Cathedral) and St Mary Major, her own basilica.   For the best part of 300 years from the year 1500, it was famous for the many miracles and graces granted to those who made the pilgrimage to the church of St Matthew on the Via Merulana, which was destroyed during the Napoleonic war.

In January 1855, the Redemptorist priests purchased Villa Caserta in Rome along the Via Merulana and converted it into their headquarters.   Without realising it, the property they had purchased was once the church and monastery of Saint Matthew, the site which the Virgin reportedly chose as the icon’s shrine.

Decades later, Pope Pius IX invited the Redemptorist Fathers to set up a Marian house of veneration in Rome, in response to which the Redemptorists built the Church of St  Alphonsus Liguori at that location.   The Redemptorists were thus established on the Via Merulana, not knowing that it had once been the site of the Church of San Matteo and shrine of the once-famous icon.

Mother of Perpetual Succour, Pray for us!

THANKSGIVING PRAYER

O Mother of Perpetual Succour,
with grateful hearts we join you
in thanking God
for all the wonderful things
He has done for us,
especially for giving us,
Jesus, your Son, as our Redeemer.
O God, our Creator,
we thank You for the gift of life
and all the gifts of nature:
our senses and faculties,
our talents and abilities.
We thank You for creating us
in Your image and likeness
and for giving us this earth
to use and develop,
to respect and cherish.
Despite our failures,
you continue to show Your love for us today
by increasing the life of Your Spirit in us
at the Eucharistic table.
Finally, we thank You, loving Father,
for giving us Mary,
the Mother of Your Son,
to be our Mother of Perpetual Succour.
We are grateful for all the favours
we have received through her intercession.
We pray that those past favours
may inspire us to greater confidence,
in your loving mercy and to seek the aid
of our Mother of Perpetual Succour.
Amenthanksgiving prayer to god our father for our mother of perpetual succour - redemptorists - 27 june 2018mother of perpetual succour - pray for us - 27 june 2018.jpg

Posted in FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, MARIAN TITLES, MIRACLES, SAINT of the DAY, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Feast of Our Lady of Miracles – 21 June

Feast of Our Lady of Miracles – 21 June – the patron of the town of Alcamo, Sicily.header - Maria_SS_dei_Miracoli_-_ALCAMO_processione_2010_198

The cult of Madonna of Miracles in Alcamo dates back to 21 June 1547, the day people remember the Madonna’s apparition to some women near a stream running north of Alcamo.   According to tradition while washing their clothes in the stream, the women, with a blind and a deaf one among them, saw the apparition of a woman with a child and were hit by a gust of pebbles, during the apparition but without receiving any injury or pain;   on the contrary, after being hit by the pebbles, they strangely felt a certain sense of wellbeing and recovered their health.   After learning the news, the women’s husbands, thinking that it was a joke, went to investigate, thinking that someone was hidden among the bushes around there but they didn’t find anybody.

Then the local authorities inquired on the spot, cut down the near grove and found the ruins of a “cuba”, an old arc of a mill that nobody remembered any longer and inside there was a fresco on a stone made by an anonymous painter of the 13th century representing Our Lady with the Child Jesus, which at first the believers called “Madonna Fons Misericordiae” (that is Our Lady Source of Mercy).

Chiesa_Basilica_S_Maria_Assunta_Alcamo_128
A representation of the discovery of Our Lady of Miracles’ image (inside its chapel in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption in Alcamo).

After this discovery all the people started praying before the rediscovered image and in the following days there were several miracles.7, Our Lady of Miracles became the patron saint of Alcamo, in substitution of the Holy Crucified, who was the patron saint of Alcamo and other near small towns (among which Calatafimi and Salemi).   The old patron saint’s memory however remains in Alcamo people’s mind:  in fact they call San Francesco di Paola “santu patri” (whose translation means “patron saint”) as the Church named after him was called the Holy Crucified Church.

The Madonna’s discovered image was first called “Our Lady Source of Mercy” but thanks to the high number of subsequent miracles, in 1583 the name was changed into “Our Lady of Miracles”.

Further to these events, Don Fernando Vega, Alcamo’s governor, ordered the construction of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Miracles, which hosts the Madonna’s image. Inside the Church there is a white marble sarcophagus containing the mortal remains of the governor Don Fernando Vega, according to his will.

Calata_al_Santuario_della_Madonna_dei_Miracoli_di_Alcamo_-_14
The Crowned Painting of the Madonna of Miracles in the Sanctuary at Alcamo
Calata_al_Santuario_della_Madonna_dei_Miracoli_di_Alcamo_-_11
Dome fresco “The Madonna of Miracles’ Glorification”

Celebrations:
Every year in Alcamo there are the celebrations in honour of Our Lady of Miracles from 19 June until 21 of June.   This is the most important religious festivity in Alcamo.   The real celebrations are often anticipated by other events, so extending the feast to about two weeks, in this way the beginning of the celebrations changes every year, while the last day is always the 21 June.

The celebrations include:
“The pealing of church bells” which opens the celebrations together with the burst of fireworks and the passing of the band through the town streets;  in the past Alcamo’s band also joined the musical band of Partinico (a neighbouring small town).
The holy Mass in honour of Our Lady of Miracles in the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta (also called “mother church”), in which all confraternities and laity groups in Alcamo take part.
The procession to the Sanctuary of Madonna of Miracles (called “calata”), in which all civil and religious authorities of the town (together with the Mayor) take part;  they are preceded by the band of the town.   In old times people took also the animals that had recovered from an illness.   Inside the sanctuary they sing Vespers and then there is the Eucharistic Blessing/Benediction.

Calata_al_Santuario_della_Madonna_dei_Miracoli_di_Alcamo_-_04
Façade of the sanctuary of Madonna of Miracles
Santuario_della_Madonna_dei_Miracoli_(Alcamo)_-_Discesa_al_Santuario
Route to the Sanctuary

Dance, music and theatrical performances.
Sport events.
Exhibitions of various kinds, including one about local Craftmanship.
“The Market Fair” at Piazza della Repubblica.
The Streets entertainers (called “Madonnari”).
The Procession of Our Lady of Miracles’ statue along the town streets and return to the mother church. Before this solemn procession, the statue of Our Lady of Miracles, createdin 1720 by Lorenzo Curti from Castelvetrano (see the image of the statue above and the back below), is adorned with a silver 12 star crown (“stellario” in Italian), a crown and a hairpin embellished by precious stones (called “tuppu di la Maronna”) which is placed behind the Madonna’s nape.   After that, the statue goes out from the Church, taken along the streets by a group of believers on their shoulders and accompanied by the band and it comes back to the mother church at the end of the procession.

Maria_SS_dei_Miracoli_-_ALCAMO_preparazione_2010_032Maria_SS_dei_Miracoli_-_ALCAMO_processione_2010_042
Fireworks near the “bastione” in Piazza Bagolino.   They take place at the end of the feast, soon after the statue’s return into the church, at about midnight.
The traditional descent to the sanctuary takes place during the so-called “Historical Cortege” with period costumes.   This cortege, which anticipates the real “calata”, passes through Corso 6 Aprile and Piazza Ciullo and finally ends at the Castle of the Counts of Modica (also called “Castle of Alcamo”).   The workmen of the association “I Cavalieri di San Giorgio” (San Giorgio’s knights) and the Civil Authorities take part in the cortege too.  Translated from the Italian).I_Cavalieri_di_San_Giorgio_-_AlcamoCalata_al_Santuario_della_Madonna_dei_Miracoli_di_Alcamo_-_06

Posted in ARCHangels and Angels, MARIAN TITLES, MIRACLES, SAINT of the DAY

8 May – Apparition of Michael the Archangel at Monte Gargano, Italy (492), Feast of Our Lady of Luján and Memorials of the Saints

Apparition of Michael the Archangel at Monte Gargano, Italy (492)

Our Lady of Luján:  The Virgin is a two feet tall terracotta statue of Our Lady.   It was made in Brazil and sent to Argentina in May 1630.   Its original appearance seemed inspired by Murillo’s Immaculates.   In 1887, to preserve and protect it, the image was given a solid silver covering.   It is usually clothed with a white robe and sky blue cloak, the colors of the Argentinian flag.   Only the dark oval face with big blue eyes and the hands folded in prayer are now visible.
Tradition says that an ox-drawn wagon was taking the statue from Buenos Aires to Santiago del Estero.   The animals stopped at the Luján River and refused to cross. Through trial and error the teamsters discovered that it the box with the Virgin was in the wagon, the oxen would not move;  if it was removed, then away they went.   After testing this several times, the people realised that Our Lady wanted to stay in Luján and so she is there today.
The image was first taken to the nearby home of Don Rosendo.   He built a primitive chapel for it which lasted 40 years.   A bigger shrine was completed in 1685.   A new sanctuary was built in the 19th century.   The image was crowned canonically in 1887.   In 1930 Pope Pius XII gave the sanctuary the title of Basilica.
Patronages:
• Agentina (proclaimed on 8 September 1930 Pope Pius XI)
• Argentinian military chaplains
• Paraguay
• Uruguay

Virgen_de_Luján-Réplica

St Acacius of Byzantium
Bl Aloysius Luis Rabata
St Amatus Ronconi
Bl Angelo of Massaccio
St Arsenio of Mount Scete
St Benedict II, Pope
St Boniface IV, Pope
St Desideratus of Bourges
Bl Domenico di San Pietro
St Gibrian
St Helladius of Auxerre
St Ida of Nivelles
St Martin of Saujon
St Metrone of Verona
St Odrian of Waterford
St Otger of Utrecht
St Peter of Besançon
Bl Pietro de Alos
Bl Raymond of Toulouse
Bl Teresa Demjanovich
Bl Ulrika Fransiska Nisch
St Victor Maurus
St Wiro of Utrecht

Posted in MARIAN QUOTES, MARIAN TITLES, MIRACLES, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, St JOSEMARIA Escriva and Opus Dei

Thought for the Day – 27 April – Friday of the Fourth Week of Eastertide and the Feast of Our Lady of Montserrat

Thought for the Day – 27 April – Friday of the Fourth Week of Eastertide and the Feast of Our Lady of Montserrat

“If I were a leper my mother would hug me.   She would kiss my wounds without fear or hesitation. —Well then, what would the Blessed Virgin Mary do?

When we feel we are like lepers, all full of sores, we have to cry out:  Mother!       And the protection of our Mother will be like a kiss upon our wounds, which obtains our cure. “…St. Josemaria Escriva  (1902-1975) – The Forge, no. 190

when we feel we are like lepers - st josemaria no 2- 27 april 2018

Approximately 28 miles northwest of Barcelona, Spain, is the mountain of Montserrat. Located on the mountain is the Benedictine Monastery and Marian Shrine of Montserrat where since the 8th century pilgrims have journeyed to see the miraculous image of Our Lady of Montserrat.

According to tradition, the image of Our Lady was found on the mountain in 718 AD.   The Benedictine Monks chose to build their monastery around the statue of Our Lady because they were unable to lift or move it.   The statue of Our Lady of Montserrat remains on the mountain today, enshrined within the sanctuary in a beautifully decorated chapel.   Our Lady is depicted seated on a throne holding the Child Jesus. Her face and hands have darkened over time due to external elements for which she is affectionately called “La Morenita.”

Saints Peter Nolasco, Ignatius Loyola, and Josemaria Escriva are counted among the many pilgrims that throughout the centuries have gone to Our Lady of Montserrat to seek her intercession.   St Josemaria was deeply devoted to Our Lady of Montserrat.   During the 1940’s, he frequently visited the shrine and made an especially important visit in 1946 before departing for Rome, which would become his new permanent home and where would begin an important period in the history of Opus Dei.

A CARESS FROM HIS HEAVENLY MOTHER: CURED OF DIABETES

Despite his move to Rome, St Josemaria’s love for the Blessed Virgin Mary under this advocation continued throughout his life.   And it was on the feast of Our Lady of Montserrat, 27 April 1954, that he was cured of diabetes, after a very severe attack which brought him to the point of death.   The story is told by Jose Miguel Cejas in his book Josemaría Escrivá, un hombre, un camino y un mensaje (“Josemaria Escriva, a man, a way and a message”):

“27 April 1954 and life was going on as usual in Villa Tevere, the headquarters of the Opus Dei prelature in Rome. It was the feast of Our Lady of Montserrat, an ordinary day, filled with prayer and work in the warm Italian springtime.   Recently Escriva’s diabetes had intensified.   Every week he went for a blood test and the results were progressively worse, in spite of a strict diet and the high doses of insulin he was given daily.   Escriva did not lose his peace of mind over this:  God led him along paths of abandonment, humility, simplicity and trust.   That day, following the doctor’s instructions, at ten to one in the afternoon, Alvaro del Portillo had given him an injection with a new prescription of delayed-action insulin.   Afterwards they went down to the dining-room.

Escriva sat down at table and suffered a physical collapse.   He realised that he could be about to die and his instant reaction was to ask for absolution.
“Alvaro, give me absolution.”
“But, Father, what are you saying?”
“Absolution!”
As Fr Del Portillo was too surprised to do anything, Escriva began the words for him, “Ego te absolvo – ” and fell unconscious on the floor.

It was an anaphylactic shock.   Del Portillo gave him absolution, put some sugar in his mouth and made him swallow it, dashed water in his face and moved his head and limbs and quickly summoned a doctor.   Some minutes later, Escriva slowly began to come round, though he found that he could not see anything.

The doctor was astonished, since these types of insulin reaction are normally fatal. However, after some hours Escriva felt better and recovered his sight again.   From that day on, his diabetes was cured.   It had been a caress from his Heavenly Mother, on the feast of Our Lady of Montserrat.”

Our Lady of Montserrat, pray for us!our lady of montserrat pray for us - 27 april 2018

St Josemaria Escriva, pray for us!st josemaria - pray for us

Posted in MARIAN TITLES, MIRACLES, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on LOVE, QUOTES on SANCTITY, SAINT of the DAY, The HOLY EUCHARIST

Quote/s of the Day – 16 April – Monday of the Third Week of Eastertide and the Memorial of St Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879)

Quote/s of the Day – 16 April – Monday of the Third Week of Eastertide and the Memorial of St Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879)

“Nothing is anything anymore to me,
everything is nothing to me,
only Jesus!
Neither things,
nor persons,
neither ideas,
nor emotions,
neither honour,
nor sufferings.
Jesus is for me honour,
delight,
heart and soul.”nothing is anything anymore to me - st bernadette - 16 april 2018

“You must receive God well – 
give Him a loving welcome,
for then, He has to pay us rent.”

St Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879)you must receive god well - st bernadette - 16 april 2018

Posted in MARIAN TITLES, MIRACLES, SAINT of the DAY, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Saint of the Day – 16 April – Saint Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879)

Saint of the Day – 16 April – Saint Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879) Marian Visionary of Lourdes, Virgin, Consecrated Religious.  Born on 7 January 1844 at Lourdes, Hautes-Pyrénées, France and died on 16 April 1879, Nevers, Nièvre, France of natural causes, aged 35.   Patronages – Bodily illness,  Lourdes, France, shepherds and shepherdesses, against poverty, people ridiculed for their faith.   She was Canonised on 8 December 1933 by Pope Pius XI.   Her Body is incorrupt and is on display in Nevers, France.st-bernadette-soubirous1St. Bernadette -at Death & Todayst bernadette's incorrupt body

The eldest of nine children, only four of whom survived childhood, Marie-Bernarde Soubirous was born at Lourdes, in the foothills of the Pyrenees.   After her father, a miller, lost his job in 1854, the family was exposed to the direst extremes of poverty.

By the time she was 14, Bernadette had been sick so often that she hadn’t grown properly.   She was the size of a much younger girl.   She, her parents and her younger brothers and sisters all lived in a tiny room at the back of someone else’s house, a building that had actually been a prison many years before.   They slept on three beds: one for the parents, one for the boys and one for the girls.   Every night they battled mice and rats.   Every morning, they woke up, put their feet on cold stone floors and dressed in clothes that had been mended more times than anyone could count.   Each day they hoped the work they could find would bring them enough bread to live on that day.

“Bernadette” grew up uneducated, undernourished and asthmatic, obliged to work as a waitress and a farmhand.   The little girl spoke in a Basque dialect and could scarcely read or write.   She did, however, imbibe from her parents a deep Catholic devotion.

By 1856 the Soubirous were living in an abandoned prison cell which stank of sewage. On 11 February 1858 Bernadette, with her sister Toinette and a friend, went to gather firewood.   In a grotto beside the River Gave, at a place used as a watering hole for pigs, she saw a vision of a “Lady” wearing a white dress, a blue girdle and a yellow rose on each foot.   Bernadette’s companions saw nothing and she herself wondered whether her experience had been an illusion.   Three days later, though, she returned to the grotto, and again saw the apparition.   On 18 February her third visit, the vision spoke for the first time, asking for her presence over the next fortnight.   Next day, the Lady instructed Bernadette to tell the priests to build a chapel at the grotto.

Grotte_miraculeuse_à_Lourdes_Charles_Mercereau

Crowds began to gather to witness the regular phenomenon of the small girl in ecstasy. The police, concerned, interrogated Bernadette, who related her experiences with clarity and conviction.   Local interest quickened after the Lady told Bernadette to drink from a muddy trickle in the grotto.   By the morrow the trickle had turned into an active spring.

On 4 March at the end of the prescribed fortnight, a crowd of 10,000 gathered to watch Bernadette.   In fact, she would experience three more apparitions, bringing the total to 18.   Chivied by the parish priest, she insisted that the Lady should give her name.   “I am the Immaculate Conception,” came the reply, in perfect Basque dialect.   Bernadette had no idea what this meant.   She repeated it to herself over and over on her way back to the village so she wouldn’t forget the strange, long words.   When she told her parish priest what the lady had said, he was quite surprised.   The priest knew that what the mysterious lady had said meant that she was Mary, Jesus’ mother.   The mysterious lady of the grotto had told Bernadette who she was.   But it was not very common for people—especially poor little girls who couldn’t read—to think of Mary as the “immaculate conception,” a phrase that reminds us of how God saved Mary from sin even before she was born.   The Blessed Virgin also told her:   “I do not promise to make you happy in this world but in the next,” the apparition had told her.

Disliking the attention she was attracting, Bernadette went to the hospice school run by the Sisters of Charity of Nevers where she had learned to read and write.   Although she considered joining the Carmelites, her health precluded her entering any of the strict contemplative orders.   On 29 July 1866, with 42 other candidates, she took the religious habit of a postulant and joined the Sisters of Charity at their motherhouse at Nevers.   Her Mistress of Novices was Sister Marie Therese Vauzou.   The Mother Superior at the time gave her the name Marie-Bernarde in honour of her godmother who was named “Bernarde”.

st bernadette - nun

Bernadette spent the rest of her brief life there, working as an assistant in the infirmary and later as a sacristan, creating beautiful embroidery for altar cloths and vestments. Her contemporaries admired her humility and spirit of sacrifice.   One day, asked about the apparitions, she replied:

“The Virgin used me as a broom to remove the dust.   When the work is done, the broom is put behind the door again.” and  “They think I’m a saint,” she observed. “When I’m dead they’ll come and touch holy pictures and rosaries to me, and all the while I’ll be getting boiled on a grill in purgatory.”

She later contracted tuberculosis of the bone in her right knee.   She had followed the development of Lourdes as a pilgrimage shrine while she still lived at Lourdes but was not present for the consecration of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception there in 1876.

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For several months prior to her death, she was unable to take an active part in convent life.   She eventually died of her long-term illness at the age of 35 on 16 April 1879 (Easter Wednesday) while praying the holy rosary.   On her deathbed, as she suffered from severe pain and in keeping with the Virgin Mary’s admonition of “Penance, Penance, Penance,” Bernadette proclaimed that “all this is good for Heaven!”   Her final words were, “Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me! A poor sinner, a poor sinner”. 

In the 1858 Lourdes apparitions, the Blessed Virgin Mary declared herself as the Immaculate Conception to the innocent little shepherd girl named Bernadette: … The Immaculate Conception (CCC, 490-3)st bernadette in art