Our Lady of Lourdes
|Name:||Our Lady of Lourdes|
|Shrine:||Lourdes National Shrine, Quezon City|
|Feast day:||February 11|
Our Lady of Lourdes was the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary when she appeared in a vision with St. Bernadette in Lourdes, France.
Bernadette Soubirous was the daughter of a flour miller in Lourdes, France. When affliction hit their family, they had to move to a former jail house. Bernadette's aunt took her and brought her to another village to do household chores and to study catechism. Being simple and illiterate, she did not learn much. Back in Lourdes, while she was accumulating firewood together with her sister, Antoinette, and Jeanne, her neighbor, they took a road that brought them to an intersection between a river and a mill. Fearing that her asthma would attack, Bernadette slowly took off her socks and crossed the river with her companions who went ahead.
Our Lady appeared to Bernadette in a vision with a strong blast of wind and sparks of light. She looked up towards the grotto. She tried to brush off the image with her rosary. To her astonishment, the Lady brought out her own rosary and prayed along with her. There were 18 apparitions that transpired, each event closely following the other and capturing Bernadette in a trance. Their sequence is as follows:
- February 11, 1858 - Bernadette prayed the rosary with Our Lady.
- February 14, 1858 - Our Lady came closer to Bernadette to establish her heavenly origins.
- February 18, 1858 - Fellowship members came along with Bernadette to validate Our Lady's messages. Our Lady asked Bernadette to come back to the grotto with a lighted candle, promising eternal salvation.
- February 19, 1858 (4th to 14th apparitions) - Our Lady asked for prayers, sacrifice and for sinners to repent. She ordered Bernadette dig at the ground, and a spring immediately bubbled up and soon gushed forth. She wished for a chapel to be built on the spot and processions to be made to the grotto. Many ill people came to plunge into the spring water and recovered instantly. Fr. Perymale, Bernadette's pastor, sent her off to ask what the Lady's name was.
- March 25, 1858 - Our Lady declared that she was the Immaculate Conception.
- April 7, 1858 - During this apparition, Bernadette unknowingly held her hands for hours in the candle without being burned.
The apparitions at Lourdes led the Pope to recognize the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1854. According to the dogma, Mary was conceived without original sin.
Bernadette lived with her parents for two years after the apparition before joining the sisters of Charity at Nevers, France. She died of asthma, tuberculosis and bone impairment at the age of thirty five.
Our Lady of Lourdes is dressed in white with white veil, blue belt and yellow rose on the feet. Three elements of nature are associated with Lourdes. The element of water which was dug up by St. Bernadette, the element of fire from the candle that Mary asked Bernadette to light, and the rocky cave where Our Lady appeared.
The image of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Philippines is venerated all over the country, particularly at the Lourdes Shrine in Quezon City. Another place of devotion is at the Lourdes Grotto in Baguio City with its long flight of steps going up the hill. The country's locally carved Lourdes image was operated by the Order of the Friars Minor Capuchins (OFM Cap) headed by Fr. Bernardo of Cleza. Filipino sculptor, Manuel Flores, carved the statue for the Capuchin's garden grotto, which was later transferred to a side altar inside the Capuchin chapel in Intramuros, Manila. The Confraternity of Lourdes was established in the chapel in May 1893, because the image has attracted a large number of devotees.
In 1894, Fr. Cleza instructed Flores to make a bigger statue of the Virgin. Many miraculous recoveries occurred before the statue. Eventually, the Capuchin chapel was made into a church wherein the image had been installed. The church was gutted by fire during the World War II but the statue of the Virgin was left unharmed.
After the war, the Capuchins bought a new property on Retiro St. Quezon City which became the permanent location of the Lourdes Church in the Philippines. It was blessed on August 15, 1951. It was declared an Archdiocesan Shrine in February 1987. It was declared a National Shrine by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on January 30, 1996.
The Archonfraternity of Lourdes in The Philippines (Arch-Con)
The Archonfraternity of Lourdes in The Philippines was established at the same time the Lourdes devotion was launched in the 1890s. There are a couple of hundred confraternities under the Arch-con that meet twice a year for the Marian Symposia and once every two years for the national convention. The feast of Lourdes is celebrated every February 11 wherein a grand penitential procession is held at dawn by the devotees holding lighted torches on bare feet while chanting canticles.
Barcelona, Mary Anne. Ynang Maria: A Celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Philippines. Edited by Consuelo B. Estepa, Ph.D. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing, Inc., 2004.