Lourdes and St Bernadette
Our parish patron saint is, of course, St Bernadette. This section looks at her life story, and the great Marian shrine of Lourdes.
The parish will once again be travelling on pilgrimage to Lourdes this coming year, from Saturday 12th-Saturday 19th October 2013. Inquiries should be directed to Alba Tours on (01698) 262941
Rosary Square and the Basilica, Lourdes
Our Patroness: St. Bernadette Soubirous
Feastday: April 16
The story of St Bernadette and Lourdes
St Bernadette is the famed visionary of Lourdes, baptized Mary Bernard. She was born in Lourdes, France, on January 7, 1844, the daughter of Francis and Louise Soubirous. Bernadette, a severe asthma sufferer, lived in abject poverty. On February 11, 1858, she was granted a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a cave on the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. She was placed in consider able jeopardy when she reported the vision, and crowds gathered when she had futher visits from the Virgin, from February 18 of that year through March 4.The civil authorities tried to frighten Bernadette into recanting her accounts, but she remained faithful to the vision. On February 25, a spring emerged from the cave and the waters were discovered to be of a miraculous nature, capable of healing the sick and lame. On March 25, Bernadette announced that the vision stated that she was the Immaculate Conception, and that a church should be erected on the site.
Many authorities tried to shut down the spring and delay the construction of the chapel, but the influence and fame of the visions reached Empress Eugenie of France, wife of Napoleon Ill, and construction went forward. Crowds gathered, free of harassment from the anticlerical and antireligious officials. In 1866, Bernadette was sent to the Sisters of Notre Dame in Nevers. There she became a member of the community, and faced some rather harsh treatment from the mistress of novices. This oppression ended when it was discovered that she suffered from a painful, incurable illness. She died in Nevers on April 16,1879, still giving the same account of her visions. Lourdes became one of the major pilgrimage destinations in the world, and the spring has produced 27,000 gallons of water each week since emerging during Bernadette’s visions. She was not involved in the building of the shrine, as she remained hidden at Nevers. Bernadette was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1933 by Pope Pius XI.
Yearly from March to October the ”’Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes”’ or the ”’Domain”’ (as it is most commonly known) is the place of mass pilgrimages from Europe and other parts of the world. The spring water from the grotto is believed by some to posses healing properties. An estimated 200 million people have visited the shrine since 1860, and the Church has officially recognized 68 miracle healings. Especially impressive are candlelight and sacrament processions. Tours from all over the world are organised to visit the Sanctuary. Connected with this pilgrimage is often the consumption of or bathing in the ”Lourdes Water” which wells out of the Grotto, the cave in which the apparitions took place in 1858. (from Wikipedia)
Pilgrimages to Lourdes
Many pilgrimages to Lourdes have been undertaken by parishoners of St Bernadette’s over the years.
Spot yourself in these photos of some of the latest parish pilgrimages to Lourdes:
Canon Ashe will lead a pilgrimage in October 2007, which will also take in the Rue du Bac in Paris, site of the appearance to St Catherine Laboure which gave birth to devotion to the miraculous medal.
Chapel of the Miraculous Medal, Rue du Bac
HCPT – The Pilgrimage Trust was formed in 1956 after a young doctor, Michael Strode, first took four children with disabilities on a Pilgrimage holiday to Lourdes and at the same time revolutionised the way children with disabilities could experience a trip to this famous international shrine in the foothills of the French Pyrenees.
Not content with letting the children stay in the usual hospitals and hospices, Dr. Michael wanted them to stay in hotels as honoured guests and to get as much out of their holiday as other children – trips to cafes, a donkey ride in the mountains and the warmth and affection of a holiday amongst caring friends.
Now, HCPT takes to Lourdes almost 2000 children from the UK, Ireland and increasingly from other countries…read more @ HCPT, The Trust website.
Fr Stephen, and some other parishoners, travel every year with the 5000 pilgrims on Easter Sunday. His group is Group 89, mostly based in Rutherglen/East Kilbride.
The Association is known as A.L.M.A. which names recalls the title of Our Lady and is an abbreviated form of Association of Lourdes Motherwell Aid.
Membership is open to young people who are approximately 16 years of age and over who wish to work on a voluntary basis with the handicapped/sick of the diocese. (from Diocese of Motherwell youth site)
The basilica in Lourdes from the other side of the Gave river
During the year, ALMA clubs allow people with disabilities and the able-bodied to spend fun social time together. There are clubs in:
Bellshill, Sacred Heart.
Blantyre, St Joseph.
Coatbridge, St Augustine’s.
East Kilbride, Our Lady of Lourdes.
Motherwell, Firpark School
Hamilton, St Ninian’s
Muirhead, St Barbara’s
Wishaw, St Thomas’s
Every two years ALMA accompanies the Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, and provides assistance in whatever way is needed, especially in music, parties, and liturgy, as well as befriending the pilgrims and assisting those with limited mobility.