More than 160 years ago, a lady in white with a blue sash appeared to 14-year old Bernadette Soubirous in a grotto in southwestern France. The place was Massabielle— a pasture and garbage dump on the outskirts of the quiet town of Lourdes.
Since that day, Lourdes, France, was forever transformed. Now, it is one of the world’s most important Catholic pilgrimage sites where the image of the Our Lady of Lourdes can be found. (Read: Lourdes: A Place of Miracles)
The Our Lady of Lourdes is venerated in honor of the miraculous apparitions that first appeared to Bernadette in the year 1858. From then on, 18 more apparitions of the “Lady” appeared in the same year, until it was later revealed that it was the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception that’s been communicating with Bernadette.
The grotto in Lourdes, France, has since been believed to have miraculous waters that can heal illnesses. Reports about the miracles rapidly spread across the world, and on July 3, 1876, Pope Pius IX has officially granted Canonical Coronation to the image. (Read: The secret behind the healing water from the Grotto of Massabielle)
Today, Lourdes is considered a popular Marian pilgrimage site among the faithful. Every year, up to six million visitors would flock the grotto to honor the Blessed Virgin. Her feast day is celebrated today, February 11.
A Feast Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes
Oh ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfortess of the Afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Look upon me with mercy. When you appeared in the grotto of Lourdes, you made it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors, and where many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. My loving Mother, obtain my request. I will try to imitate your virtues so that I may one day share your company and bless you in eternity. Amen.
Prayer from catholic.org.