Priest Salvador Espinoza offers this article on the dedication of the Virgin of Lourdes, “patron saint of the sick,” whose feast day is celebrated today, February 11.
Today, February 11, let us celebrate Mary, in the dedication of the Virgin of Lourdes, “patron saint of the sick.” Every day of the year, pilgrims go to pray with faith to the Virgin of Lourdes so that she intercedes before God and performs a miracle of healing for them, especially that has to do with physical, mental, and spiritual health. Some other pilgrims are searching for existential answers about their lives, from faith. Some people go on a religious tourism plan. Some people openly declare themselves as atheists or agnostics and go to Lourdes to verify, for themselves, the veracity of such miracles; in some cases there are conversions.
There is a great diversity of pilgrims, who come from different parts of the world to the Sanctuary of Lourdes. All of them are attended to, spiritually and religiously, with Masses in different languages; processions with candles within a processional liturgy before some evening service; rosaries prayed in different languages; and sacramental care of reconciliation. Likewise, there is a special help to assist people who want to be cured with: “the water that flows from the grotto”, the place where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette. For me, visiting the Virgin in Lourdes was an unforgettable religious experience. For some people, their lives change forever, because God, through the intersection of the Virgin Mary, works miracles.
We cannot forget the testimony of so many religious Congregations, which have the Virgin of Lourdes as their patron and model of life; to so many lay people, priests, religious and ecclesiastical communities who go on pilgrimage with great faith to have a religious experience with community prayer.
God touches the hearts of those who allow themselves to be guided by the Lord (Ezekiel 11, 19-20), through the intersection of Mary in the Virgin of Lourdes, so many people who care for the sick and elderly, who witness the many miracles that have happened when experiencing faith and prayer in Lourdes; and so many people who, without being able to physically be in Lourdes, entrusted themselves to the Virgin Mary and, through the mercy of God, their lives changed.
A little history
In the year 1858, in the Massabielle grotto, Lourdes, France, the Virgin appears to a humble woman, Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879). She was just 14 years old and illiterate. Together with her sisters, she had the housework of searching for firewood.
One morning, on the banks of the Gave de Pau river, when they were looking for firewood, Bernadette is chosen by the Virgin Mary to be her messenger. She entrusts her with several tasks, as well as secrets. The Virgin introduces herself as “the Immaculate Conception” to the young Bernadette and conveys her request to build a sanctuary and hold a procession, among other things.
She also asks her to pray for people for their conversion and forgiveness of their sins. In one of her 18 apparitions, the Virgin Mary asks Bernadette to wash and drink the water from the fountain, and that she eat the grass from that place to be cured of her ailments. The young woman does so. When digging in the grotto, a spring emerges (since then that place became a holy and miraculous place) and over time it became a place of pilgrimage. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes was erected there.
But, as in all apparitions of the Virgin, the truth of her appearance was questioned, and also her spokesperson. They did make several commissions to confirm the miracles. This was the case until Bishop Tarbes himself (01/18/1868) attested that Bernadette was telling the truth. What especially moved him was that an illiterate young woman pronounced Mary’s name, just as she introduced herself: “I am the Immaculate Conception” (three years before this same dogma of faith was proclaimed about Mary).
Prayer of intercession to the Virgin of Lourdes for the healing of the sick
Oh, most kind Virgin of Lourdes, Mother of God and our Mother!
Filled with affliction and with tears flowing from their eyes,
We come in the bitter hours of illness to your maternal heart, to ask you to pour out with full hands
the treasure of your mercy upon us.
We are unworthy of you listening to us because of our sins of you,
But remember that it has never been heard of
None of those who have come to you be abandoned.
Tender mother! Kind mother! Sweetest mother!
Since God works through your hand untold healings in the prodigious Grotto of Lourdes, healing so many victims of pain,
Receive the desired health from your Divine Son Jesus Christ,
if it has to be for the greater glory of God.
But much more, to reach us all, the forgiveness of our sins,
patience and resignation in suffering
and, above all, a great and eternal love for our God,
prisoner for us in the Tabernacles. Amen.
Virgin of Lourdes, pray for us.
Comforter of the afflicted, pray for us.
Health of the sick, pray for us.