One hundred fifty-one years ago today, our Lady appeared for the first time to St. Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France. The Lady made a spring of water flow. She asked for a church. St. Bernadette faithfully did everything the Lady asked.
Preacher and Big Daddy is on the road. We kept the Memorial of our Lady of Lourdes at the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore, Maryland.
Our Holy Father Pope Benedict is in France, and tomorrow he will fly from Paris to Lourdes. He will visit the sites of St. Bernadette’s life, including the tiny basement in which she lived with her family, and, of course, the grotto where our Lady appeared to her 150 years ago. Then on Sunday, he will celebrate Holy Mass.
The Pope’s procession through the town of Lourdes will be tomorrow evening, France-time. I imagine that EWTN will show it live starting 12:30 or so tomorrow afternoon (If they don’t, I for one will be rather disappointed.) Then the Mass is on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m., France-time, which is enormously early here. (EWTN will probably re-air it later in the day.)
Lourdes is just about the most beautiful, prayerful place I have ever been, and St. Bernadette is one of the most lovable of all the saints. She had seen visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary; the police and the mayor were against her and publicly dismissed her as a lunatic. Meanwhile, well-meaning people lined up at the door to her family’s dank basement (usually used as a jail), hoping that Bernadette would bless their rosaries. She refused, saying: “What do they want me for? Women don’t wear the stole.”
Her job was simply to communicate the message that the Lady gave her to communicate. At the end of her brief and agonizing life, she wrote: “Blessed be God for making me the stupidest girl in town, because if I were not, the Lady would not have appeared to me.”