Near Lourdes, France, Mary appeared to a young miller’s daughter 18 times from February 11 through July 16, 1858. Can you imagine being greeted by Our Mother not once, not twice, not even three times! Eighteen different times Our Mother presented herself to this young woman. According to the young girl, Bernadette Soubrious, Mary appeared at the grotto of Massabielle.
During the first appearance, Bernadette was visiting the grotto with two companions-her friend and her sister. Unfortunately, Bernadette’s two companions were not able to see the Mary. Upon arriving home, Bernadette and her sister were beaten for lying about her vision and were forbidden from returning to the grotto. This beating obviously did not deter her from visiting the grotto multiple times. In addition to being disciplined by her mother, she was also threatened with imprisonment due to her visions.
As the visions continued, the number of people following Bernadette to the grotto increased dramatically. Near the end of her sightings, she as accompanied by 8,000 people. None of whom could see The Mother. Some came out of curiosity, others followed because they did believe. I think it’s important to realize that Bernadette was able to inspire so many people to pray and repent. As mentioned, not everyone believed Bernadette-She was mocked, disciplined and thought to be crazy. However, she was eventually believed, and her visions were deemed true by the Church.
During these visions, Bernadette was instructed to drink from a spring-which did not exist. Following Mary’s direction, Bernadette lifted up a rock and discovered a small stream of muddy water. Bernadette dug into the ground and was able to drink clean water. The next day, an actual stream of water appeared from that point. But the excitement does not end there! Miraculously, a friend of Bernadette’s was cured of her paralysis after washing in the spring. Additionally, a blind man who washed had his sight restored. Two miraculous events!
After many visions and conversations with “The Lady” as Bernadette called her, Mary finally revealed her name to the young woman saying, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Shortly after this vision, another miracle occurred-While having a vision, Bernadette held her hand over a candle she had brought with her. For nearly 15 minutes, she held her hand over the flame completely unharmed. Of course for all of the skeptics out there, a doctor was nearby and was able to confirm that she had indeed held her hand over the flame and was completely unscathed.
Being a big Garth Brooks fan, a particular song comes to mind when I think of this moment with the flame. “Life is not tried it, it’s merely survived it when you’re standing outside the fire.” In our lives, we can either stand outside the fire or, we can let it consume us and allow Christ to protect us. Bernadette was poor. She was mocked, and disciplined for her “visions” which were most certainly real! I think we all hear the calling of our Lord, but the world around us can deter us from stepping up and truly listening. If a 14 year old girl can be brave, we as adult women can emulate her courage and strength in our daily lives. Strong, courageous, and reflective sweet sisters. We may not see Mary with our own eyes, but She is certainly always in our hearts.
How can you be more courageous in your faith?
Take time to pray a decade of the Rosary, keeping your personal intentions in mind.