Remembering St. Bernadette on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes
by Goldee Salcedo Garcia
I fell in love with Our Lady of Lourdes after my first visit to the Grotto in 2014.
Since then, Lourdes has been my favorite pilgrim site and has held a special place in my heart. I have visited 3 times and I can never get enough of it.
As soon as I leave Lourdes, I long for the day when I can come back to visit again. I find that there is a different sense of calm and renewal of spirit that takes place there, a different sense of connection to our Blessed Mother, a different level of awareness of happiness in my faith, that I do not find elsewhere.
We have St. Bernadette to thank for this beautiful experience that so many of us pilgrims have benefitted from and keep coming back to for over a century now.
Here are some lessons I have learned from the story of St. Bernadette:
1. Have COURAGE
At the young age of 14 years old, St. Bernadette had the courage to share her experience of a beautiful woman appearing to her and saying, "I am the Immaculate Conception". Her testimony was deemed incontestable and many believed that the beautiful woman was the Blessed Virgin Mary. This supported the church dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which was defined by Pope Pius IX just 4 years before St. Bernadette's visions.
2. Be OBEDIENT
Despite all her physical ailments, being a frail and sickly child (she had cholera when she was a toddler and asthma throughout her life), and becoming a public spectacle, she followed the instructions of our Blessed Mother throughout the period of the apparitions. She said yes when the Blessed Virgin asked her to go to the Grotto for a fortnight; she said the Rosary with her; she kissed the ground as an act of penance for sinners; she did not let up drinking of the spring despite finding only a little muddy water and only being able to drink on her fourth attempt; she ate the bitter herbs near the spring; she gave the Blessed Mother's instructions for people to go there in procession and for a chapel to be built there. Today, about 8 million pilgrims visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes every year and the procession is held daily.