Today, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. This feast commemorates a series of Church authenticated apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Bernadette Soubirous (b. 1844- d. 1879) in 1858 at Lourdes, France. In 1908, the English Catholic priest and writer, Fr. Robert Hugh Benson (primarily remembered as the writer of Lord of the World), visited the shrine at Lourdes, and wrote a six page report on his findings. The report, or essay, includes multiple summaries of the times he spent with doctors in a reporting room; a room where purported miracles were analyzed, and recorded, if they were deemed to be sound. It is quite interesting, and offers a glimpse into the world at Lourdes over a hundred years ago.
The Fr. Benson report/essay may be read here.
The following block contains a small excerpt from the aforementioned report:
Mary, then, has appeared to me in a new light since I have visited Lourdes. I shall in future not only hate to offend her, but fear it also. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of that Mother who allows the broken sufferer to crawl across France to her feet – and then to crawl back again. She is one of the Maries of Chartres, that reveals herself here, dark, mighty, dominant, and all but inexorable; not the Mary of an ecclesiastical shop, who dwells amid tinsel and tuberoses. She is Sedes Sapientiae, Turris Eburnea, Virgo Paritura, strong and tall and glorious, pierced by seven swords, yet serene as she looks to her Son.
Yet, at the same time, the tenderness of her great heart shows itself at Lourdes almost beyond bearing. She is so great and so loving it affects those to whom one speaks – the quiet doctors, even those who, through some confusion of mind or some sin, find it hard to believe; the strong brancardier, who carry their quivering burdens with such infinite care; the very sick themselves, coming back from the piscines in agony, yet with the faces of those who come down from the altar after Holy Communion. The whole place is alive with Mary and the love of God – from the inadequate statue at the Grotto to the brazen garlands in the square, even as far as the illuminated castle and the rockets that burst and bang against the steady stars. If I were sick of some deadly disease, and it were revealed to me that I must die, yet none the less I should go to Lourdes; for if I should not be healed by Mary, I could at least learn how to suffer as a Christian ought. God has chosen this place – He only knows why, as He, too, alone chooses which man shall suffer and which be glad – He has chosen this place to show His power; and therefore has sent His Mother there, that we may, look through her to Him. (source, and link to entire essay)
May Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us, now and always.
Have a good day.
~ Video from a procession at Lourdes, France in 1934: link.
~Image: statues of Our Lady of Lourdes with St. Bernadette kneeling.