Our Lady of Lourdes

detail of a stained glass window depicting the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous; date and artist unknown; church of Saint-Pierre-ès-Liens, Bourdeilles, Dordogne, France; photographed on 17 December 2009 by Père Igor; swiped from Wikimedia Commons; click for source imageMemorial

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The memorial commemorates the eighteen (18) apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Bernadette Soubiroux that occurred between 11 February and 16 July of 1858 near the town of Lourdes in the Hautes-Pyrenees region of France. Though there would be other people with her, only Saint Bernadette could see the Lady.

During the 9th appearance, on 25 February, the Lady told Bernadette to drink from a spring that suddenly appeared in the grotto where the apparitions occurred. During the 12th appearance, on 1 March, a visitor washed her arm in water from the spring, and some nerve damage in it was immediately cured. There is a tradition of miraculous cures at the grotto, or received by those who drink or are bathed in its waters. Bernadette later said that the water had no special properties, but it helped focus the faithful who received the cures through faith and prayer.

During the 13th appearance, on 2 March, the Lady told Bernadette to tell local priests that they should build a chapel at the grotto, and have processions to be made to it; the priests were understandably skeptical, but due to the numbers of pilgrims coming to the area, construction of several churches was started within a few years.

During the 16th appearance, on 25 March, the Lady identified herself as “the Immaculate Conception“.

Due to the number of people gathering at the site, and making treks to the area, on 8 June 1858, the mayor of Lourdes barricaded the grotto and stationed guards to prevent public access; visitors were fined for kneeling near the grotto or talking about it, and Bernadette saw the last appearance of the Lady from outside the barricade. The grotto was re-opened to the public in October 1858 by order of Emperor Louis Napoleon III, and the pilgrims have not stopped coming since.

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MLA Citation

  • “Our Lady of Lourdes“. CatholicSaints.Info. 18 April 2015. Web. 25 May 2015. <>