Lourdes Part IV: The Apparitions Continued

In my previous post, I gave descriptions of the first nine apparitions in Lourdes.

In that post, there was an issue with the photos and they weren’t visible at first! The issue was fixed later and the photos are now visible.

If you weren’t able to view the photos when you initially read the post, please click here to revisit it. (I recommend doing this because the photos illustrate the connections.)

In this post, I’ll present the last nine apparitions and the connections between the past and the present.

Image of the 16th Apparition, Musée Sainte-Bernadette, Lourdes


Our Lady’s Apparitions to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858

Tenth: February 27

Eight hundred people were present. The Apparition was silent. Bernadette drank the water from the spring and carried out her usual acts of penance.

Eleventh: February 28

Over one thousand people were present at the ecstasy. Bernadette prayed, kissed the ground and moved on her knees as a sign of penance. She was then taken to the house of Judge Ribes who threatened to put her in prison.

Twelfth: March 1

Over one thousand five hundred people assembled. Among them, for the first time, was a priest. In the night Catherine Latapie, a woman from a village 7 kilometers [4 miles] away, went to the Grotto. She plunged her dislocated arm into the water of the spring: her arm and her hand regained their movement.

Baths
Photo from The Order of Malta American Association

The Baths

  • People started claiming the water had healing properties soon after the discovery of the spring, so the mayor ordered a chemical study to test it. Even though it was found to be simple drinking water with no special characteristics, it’s much more than that.
  • After Latapie’s healing, primitive baths were created and pumped by hand so the sick could bathe in the water. Over the years, countless miracles and healings have taken place at the Sanctuary and the baths. The main reason many go to Lourdes is to bathe in the water.
  • There are now 17 baths: 6 for men and 11 for women. The water comes straight from the spring and isn’t heated; the temperature is 54 degrees Fahrenheit, 12 degrees Celsius! Any one is welcome to use them, not just those who have visible illnesses.
  • There’s a specific procedure for the baths. The men and women line-up in separate sections and wait. (The men’s line is much shorter and faster!) Mothers with children and those in wheelchairs are brought to the front of the line and to designated baths.
  • During the waiting period, someone — a bishop, priest, pilgrim, and/or volunteer — leads the Rosary; this time is spent in continuous prayer. When it’s a person’s turn, they are called into the bath house. One waits on a bench then goes to the area that’s closed-off by a curtain. Several people are in the curtained area and assisted by volunteers known as hospitaliers. Over 100,000 people go to the shrine each year to volunteer in the baths.
  • Before bathing, the person prays to themselves and gives their intentions to Our Lady while facing her statue. When ready, the person makes the Sign of the Cross and is led into the bath. One walks down a couple of steps to the end of the bath. One sits and is dunked backwards by the volunteers; the head doesn’t go in the water. The volunteers raise the person up and lead them out of the bath. Another short prayer is said, then one leaves and gets dressed. (Even though you’re immersed in water, and not given a towel, you’re not that wet!)
  • I went in the baths two days in a row. The first day I saw a 12-year-old girl in a wheelchair waiting with her mom. The girl could barely keep her head up; she looked dejected and exhausted. The second day I saw the same girl, but she didn’t seem the same. She was still in a wheelchair, but she was wide-awake; she looked happy and bright. Her mom seemed different too; she looked hopeful and relieved. I don’t know anything about this girl, but I do believe that I witnessed a miracle at the baths.

Thirteenth: March 2

The crowd becomes larger and larger. The Lady told her: “Go and tell the priests that people are to come here in procession and to build a chapel here.” Bernadette spoke of this to Fr. Peyramale, the Parish Priest of Lourdes. He wanted to know only one thing: the Lady’s name. He demanded another test: to see the wild rose bush flower at the Grotto in the middle of winter.

The Processions

  • In my previous post, I wrote about the Torchlight Marian Procession which takes place every evening at nine o’clock. The statue of Our Lady of Lourdes leads the procession while pilgrims pray the Rosary carrying lit candles. The malades, the French term for “sick people,” follow right behind Our Lady. They are brought to the front of the Basilica, in front of the rest of the pilgrims.
  • There’s also a Eucharistic Procession which takes place every evening at five o’clock. It begins with prayer and the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The malades lead the procession and are pushed or pulled in special carts by volunteers. The priests carry the Blessed Sacrament at the end of the procession line as hymns of praise are sung. Once everyone reaches the Basilica of St. Pius X, there’s a time of Adoration followed-by Benediction (a blessing). It’s a beautiful event which can be heard and seen from everywhere in the Sanctuary. It can even been heard from outside the Sanctuary!

The Places of Worship 

  • There are 22 places of worship at the Sanctuary, each with its own architecture and purpose. These include: the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Crypt, Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Basilica of St. Pius X, Chapel of St. Joseph, Chapel of St. Paul, Chapel of St. Maximilian Kolbe, and Church of St. Bernadette.
  • The first to be built was the Crypt which is below the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Its construction began in 1863, and it was consecrated in 1866. Since each was built over time, the only church Bernadette saw was the Crypt. She witnessed its completion before leaving for the convent.

Our Lady asked for a procession and chapel, and her request was honored in many ways!

Fourteenth: March 3

From seven o’clock in the morning, in the presence of three thousand people, Bernadette arrived at the Grotto, but the vision did not appear! After school, she heard the inner invitation of the Lady. She went to the Grotto and asked her again for her name. The response was a smile. The Parish Priest told her again: “If the Lady really wishes that a chapel be built, then she must tell us her name and make the rose bush bloom at the Grotto.”

Fifteenth: March 4

The ever-greater crowd, about eight thousand people, waited for a miracle at the end of the fortnight [two weeks]. The vision was silent. Fr. Peyramale stuck to his position. For twenty days Bernadette did not go to the Grotto, she no longer felt the irresistible invitation.

Sixteenth: March 25

The vision finally revealed her name, but the wild rose bush, on which she stood during the apparitions, did not bloom. Bernadette recounted: “She extended her arms towards the ground, then joined them as though in prayer and said ‘Que soy era Immaculada Concepciou’ (I am the Immaculate Conception)”. The young visionary left and, running all the way, repeated continuously the words that she did not understand. These words troubled the brave Parish Priest. Bernadette was ignorant of the fact that this theological expression was assigned to the Blessed Virgin. Four years earlier, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared this a truth (dogma) of the Catholic Faith.

Seventeenth: April 7

During this apparition, Bernadette had to keep her candle alight. The flame licked along her hand without burning it. A medical doctor, Dr. Douzous, immediately witnessed this fact.

Eighteenth: July 16

Bernadette received the mysterious call to the Grotto, but her way was blocked and closed off by a barrier. She thus arrived across from the Grotto to the other side of the [River] Gave. “I felt that I was in front of the Grotto, at the same distance as before, I saw only the Blessed Virgin, and she was more beautiful than ever!”


I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the apparitions and connections between the past and present events in Lourdes.

It’s a blessing to be able to share my pilgrimage experience with you.

I’m going to take a break from the Lourdes Series and resume at a later time…


*The descriptions of the apparitions are from the official Lourdes website.

2 thoughts on “Lourdes Part IV: The Apparitions Continued

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