Our Lady of Lourdes

On February 11, 1858, Soubirous went with her sister Toinette and neighbor Jeanne Abadie to collect some firewood. After taking off her shoes and stockings to wade through the water near the Grotto of Massabielle, she said she heard the sound of two gusts of wind but the trees and bushes nearby did not move. A wild rose in a natural niche in the grotto, did move.
She saw a lady dressed in white, wearing a white dress, a blue girdle, and a yellow rose on each foot, the same color as the chain of her rosary; the beads of the rosary were white.  From the dark alcove came a dazzling light.
Soubirous tried to make the sign of the cross but could not, as her hands were trembling. The lady smiled and invited Soubirous to pray the rosary with her. Soubirous tried to keep this a secret, but Toinette told her mother. After parental cross-examination, she and her sister received corporal punishment for their story.
Three days later, February 14, Soubirous returned to the grotto. She had brought holy water as a test that the apparition was not of evil,  She threw holy water in her direction.  She said if the apparition came from God stay, but if not, she must go. The apparition smiled and bowed.
Soubirous’ companions became afraid when they saw her in ecstasy. She remained ecstatic even as they returned to the village. On February 18, she spoke of being told by the Lady to return to the Grotto over a period of two weeks. The Lady only spoke to her a third time.  She told me also that she did not promise to make me happy in this world, but in the next.
Soubirous was ordered by her parents to never go there again. She went anyway.  On February 24, Soubirous said the apparition asked for prayer and penitence for the conversion of sinners.
The next day, she said the apparition asked her to dig in the ground and drink from the spring she found there. This made her dirty and disheveled.  Some of her supporters were concerned, but she revealed the stream that soon became a focal point for pilgrimages. It was muddy at first, the stream became increasingly clean. Word spread, this water was given to medical patients of all kinds.  There were many reports of miraculous cures. 
Seven of these cures were confirmed as lacking any medical explanations by Professor Verges in 1860. The first person with a “certified miracle” was a woman whose right hand had been deformed as a consequence of an accident. Several miracles turned out to be short-term improvements or even hoaxes.  The Catholic Church and government officials became increasingly concerned.  The government fenced off the grotto and issued stiff penalties for anybody trying to get near the off-limits area. Lourdes became a national issue in France.  Emperor Napoleon III with an order to reopen the grotto on October 4, 1858. The church had decided to stay away from the controversy altogether.
Soubirous, knowing the local area well, managed to visit the barricaded grotto under cover of darkness. There, on 25 March, 25, she said she was told: “I am the Immaculate Conception”  On Easter Sunday, April 7, her examining doctor stated that Soubirous, in ecstasy, was observed to have held her hands over a lit candle without sustaining harm. On July 16, Soubirous went for the last time to the grotto. “I have never seen her so beautiful before,” she reported. 

The Catholic Church decided to institute an investigative commission on November 17, 1858. On  January 18, 1860, the local bishop “The Virgin Mary did appear indeed to Bernadette Soubirous.” These events established the Marian veneration in Lourdes, which together with Fátima and the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most frequented Marian shrines in the world, and to which between 4 and 6 million pilgrims travel annually.

Soubirous described the apparition as a tiny maiden about 12 years old.  She insisted the apparition was no taller than herself 4 foot, 7 inches tall, Soubirous was small even by the standards of other poorly nourished children.  She described the apparition as dressed in a flowing white robe, with a blue sash around her waist. This was the uniform of a religious group called the Children of Mary, because of her poverty, Soubirous was not allowed to join.  Though she was admitted after the apparitions.

Our Lady of Prompt Succor

During the French Revolution 1789-1790, many priests, nuns, and religious brothers were persecuted.  They often had to go into hiding in order to administer the Sacraments and keep their vocation. This is what happened with the Ursuline nuns of the Convent of Pont-Saint-Esprit. One of the nuns, Agathe Gensoul, couldn’t use her religious name any longer.  Mother St. Michel, still lived her vocation, starting a school with another Ursuline, Sophie Ricard. Agathe had a cousin who was an Ursuline also, but who lived in America, in New Orleans, which had been under Spanish rule but was now under French rule. The Spanish Ursulines, in New Orleans, feared persecution by the French, so they went back to Spain.  This left the convent in need of more nuns.

So Agathe or Mother St. Michel applied to her bishop for the transfer to New Orleans.  The bishop refused her request because of troubles in France. He told her the Pope would have to approve her move. The pope couldn’t approve her move because he was under house arrest.  The situation appeared impossible. Agathe, was not easily discouraged. She wrote a letter to Pope Pius VII, but after three months she didn’t have the ability to send it. 

One day, while praying before a statue of Mary, she was inspired with this prayer:  “O Most Holy Virgin Mary, if you obtain a prompt and favorable answer to my letter, I promise to have you honored in New Orleans under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor.”

She not only found a way to send the letter a few days later, but the Pope replied within a month! He granted permission and gave his blessing for her new undertaking.  This surprised the bishop who asked to bless the statue that Mother St. Michel had carved to take with her to New Orleans.  The statue was enshrined in the Ursuline convent in New Orleans on December 30, 1810. 

Two years later, in 1812, there was a terrible fire at the Vieux Carre. The wind was driving the fire toward the Ursuline convent.  It was facing immediate danger. The nuns were told to evacuate.  Sister St. Anthony, placed a small statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor on a window seat and St Michel began to pray aloud.  Immediately the wind that threatened to set their convent ablaze immediately switched direction and a couple of buildings, including theirs, were spared from the inferno. This was the first major historical miracle.

Three years later, America’s 6000 troops, under General Andrew Jackson were to face 15000 British soldiers. On the eve of the battle of New Orleans, the residents joined the sisters of the Ursuline convent to pray overnight with Our Lady of Prompt Succor. The Superior had made a vow to have a thanksgiving mass sung annually if the American forces win.  During a mass, at the time of communion, a courier ran into the chapel to inform all present that the British had been defeated. Ever since then, on January 8, an annual thanksgiving mass has been sung.

Mary’s help has been sought from the shrine ever since, both in times of war, during the Battle of New Orleans, and during the threat of the frequent hurricanes. 

Mary, Holy Mother of God

Mary is called Mother and Mother of God for a few reasons.  The first Eve was the first mother to humanity.  However, since she sinned, in the garden, Mary with her Yes, to God became the new Eve.  

In Luke 1, Mary was greeted by an angel, weird enough by itself. Then the message Gabriel, delivered? That’s a lot for a 14-year-old to take in and understand, but she did. That yes, Mary’s yes, means she is Theotokos, the Greek word for God-bearer, or Mother of God, in the way she is biologically Jesus’s mother, but is very different from being a mother to God the Father, who was before the beginning of time.  Jesus in being fully man was born of Mary, which also means biologically, Mary shared blood with baby Jesus in the womb.  In any pregnancy, blood, oxygen, and nutrients are passed to the baby from the pregnant woman through the umbilical cord   The person who gives birth to us is our mother.  Jesus calls us adopted sons and daughters of God. These are just some of the ways we can refer to Mary as our spiritual mother. 

Sometimes we have too many words, and other times we don’t have enough. We talk of love for any number of things. We love pizza and chocolate. We love our parents, siblings, and children. We love God. Those don’t all mean the same kind of love.

The word God can be any individual having a divine nature. Sometimes God refers to the Father, Son, and Spirit together. Sometimes it refers only to one of them.

Mary, Mother of God, God this time means only Jesus, the person of the Son. Mary is not the Mother of the Trinity. She is not the Mother of the Father nor the Holy Spirit. When we say God died on the cross, we mean Jesus, the Son’s humanity died, not His divinity.

Jesus does not begin at the Incarnation. He is co-eternal with the Father and Holy Spirit. His immaculate Conception of Mary doesn’t create him or cause him to begin to exist. When he is conceived of Mary, He begins to be human. She doesn’t in any way contribute to his divinity. She does contribute to his humanity.

Mary is our mother in a spiritual sense. Paul says repeatedly salvation means being one with Christ. In Christ, we are a new creation. This makes us the adopted sons and daughters of the Father in his natural Son. This only happens because of Jesus’ humanity. With His humanity, we become the adopted sons/daughters of the Father in the Son of God, because He made man, we also become adopted sons/daughters of Mary, his mother. We are members of Christ’s body in a spiritual sense. Mary is who Jesus took his human body. We are in Christ, and Mary is the mother of Christ.

This is a new fresh start, find a good yes.

Our Lady of Fatima

Our Lady of Fatima is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  On May 13, 1917, during World War I,  three shepherd children, Lucia Santos, and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto said they saw a woman brighter than the sun.  The woman was dressed in white and held a rosary in her hand. She asked them to pray the Rosary every day. She said it would bring peace and an end to the war. The children didn’t say they saw an angel. Lucia had said they should keep it a secret. Jacinta told her family about seeing a brightly lit woman.  Her mother told the neighbors it was a joke. The next day everyone in the village knew of the children’s story.

The child said the woman told them to return next month. Lucia’s mother asked the parish priest what to do. The priest suggested she let them go. The woman appeared again on June 13 the feast of Saint Anthony, their local parish. This time when they saw the lady she said Francisco and Jacinta would be taken to heaven soon, but Lucia would live longer to tell of the Immaculate Heart. She also told the children to say the Rosary daily to end the Great War. She showed the children other visions. Lucia later remembered the lady told her to come back on the 13th and learn to read, so you can understand.

On August 13, 1917, a government official arrested and jailed the children because he believed they were going against the government. That month instead of the vision arriving on the 13th, she arrived nearby on Sunday, August 19. The children said they saw the Blessed Virgin Mary six times between May 13, and October 13, 1917.

By June 1917, people claimed the Virgin Mary had promised a miracle. A crowd of 70,000 people, including news reporters and photographers. It had been raining and was gloomy for days. Lucia saw a light rise from the lady’s hands.  It appeared to be a silver disk and called out “Look at the sun.” The sun seemed to change colors and rotate like a wheel.  It could be seen for 40 kilometers away.  However, it was not seen anywhere else in the world, and scientists who studied it said there was no scientific reason for it.

Francisco and Jacinta Marto died of the flu epidemic the next year. Francisco was 10 and Jacinta was 9. They were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000. At 14, in 1922,  Lucia went to school at the Sisters of St. Dorothy. She joined the convent soon after. She continued to have visions of the Virgin Mary. In 1947, she left the Dorothean order and joined the Discalced Carmelite Order. Lucia died February 13, 2005, at the age of 97.

Two million people visited the site of the site between 1917 and 1927. In May 1920 a statue of the Virgin Mary was installed in the chapel built at the site. Mass was first celebrated there in January 1924. Later a basilica was built.

Most festivals take place there on the 13th of each month, and most people visit on the 13th of May to October.