By Susan of Wardrobe
In April, my grandparents flew all the way from Canada to visit us, so of course we had to take them somewhere special. After thinking for a while, we decided to take them to Lourdes. My family and I had never been there before so it was a new adventure for all of us.
The car drive was about 4 painfully boring hours long. We finally got there and dropped off our bags, then set out for a walk to the Rosary Basilica and visit the Grotto of St. Bernadette. We stopped on the way to buy some candles after someone told us there would be a candle procession that night. When we arrived at the Basilica, we explored its majestic beauty. We entered the church and got to witness the end of a mass. After that we waited at the Grotto until the procession started.
Do you know the story of St. Bernadette? Well here’s my short version:
Once upon a time there was this very poor family that couldn’t afford to keep their children so one day, they sent their daughter Bernadette to Bartres, so she could have a better life there as a shepherdess. On Thursday, February 11th, when she was crossing the small river to enter the grotto which served as a sheep pen, she saw a beautiful lady in a white dress with a blue belt adorned with golden roses around her feet and holding a rosary. The lady began to pray and Bernadette prayed with her.
The next day Bernadette came back and saw the Lady who said: “Come here for 15 days and I may be able to promise you happiness in this world or the other…”
Bernadette returned there every morning and the whole village was talking about her and asking if she had seen the Blessed Virgin. Once she heard, her mother got mad because she thought she was lying and forbid her from coming to the grotto anymore, but Bernadette didn’t listen.
One day, while she was in the grotto, a crowd had formed to watch Bernadette as she talked to the Lady in White. Suddenly, Bernadette knelt down and crawled to a spot on the ground and began to dig a hole. After a few attempts of digging, water began to flow. The water was all muddy, but she took a drink of it and threw it away in distaste and instead began washing her face with the mud and started eating some grass nearby. Everybody thought she was going crazy. Bernadette was taken away and forbidden to go there.
A little spring began to flow where Bernadette had dug a hole, ill people had come there and drank the water as Bernadette had done. Miraculously, they healed.
A few weeks later Bernadette was allowed to come back.The lady appeared once more. Finally Bernadette asked: “What is your name?”, the lady replied, “I am the Immaculate conception.”
Bernadette told the priest and then, every one believed her. Many of the sick came and drank from Bernadette’s spring. They were healed and the spring soon became famous. People from all over the world came to drink as Bernadette once did.
The miraculous spring still flows and we were thrilled to collect some water for our friends and family.
That night, at the Grotto, after praying and reflecting in the grotto, a huge crowd came to light their candles. Soon enough, the procession started. It was beautiful. Stunning. In the darkness, light illuminated different people, from different races, young, old, men, woman, everybody you could imagine standing around me.
Finally, we started walking as a large crowd around the church grounds. Murmuring the rosary in all different languages. Beside me I could hear French, Italian, Portuguese, Mandarin. Everything, everybody come together that night to pray to the Lord.
When we came to the front of the church, a float carried by a dozen people appeared. The glowing statue of Mother Mary moving around the crowd in her illuminated white dress. Thousands, watching silently as she mounted the steps onto the Basilica.
Peering down at us, Mary looking extravagant with a loving, warm smile, comforting us.
We all prayed some more and then people began filing out of the square. Lights darkened as they went back for the night. I was feeling tired and ready to sleep, and took one last look at the Basilica as we walked back through town to our hotel. I, fatigued by the magical night fell asleep instantly.
The next morning, we walked back into Lourdes to explore a bit more and to have a peaceful afternoon walking.
Leaving Lourdes was a bit sad after the night before, but I know one day I’ll come back with my children and share the experience I had when I came there.
Here’s a video of the Candlelight Rosary we attended during Holy Week, April, 2012.