|The only known photograph of St. Bernadette actually kneeling |
at the grotto. This was taken some years after the apparitions.
But, I couldn't let the day go without honoring the feast of the Apparition of Our Lady at Lourdes. Because Bernadette is my middle name, I have a particular fondness for anything relating to St. Bernadette, but it's more than affection for my patron saint that draws me to the story of Lourdes. Everything about Lourdes is beautiful and magical and tingling with the music of heaven to me -- reason alone to meditate upon it: the beauty of the image of Our Lady of Lourdes; the roses under her feet, the miracle of the rectory's roses in winter; and, last but not least, Our Lady's message that she is -- and always has been - the Immaculate Conception. That she was conceived without the stain of sin. That she remained always perfect and pure, as the Mother of God must be and is. The thought transports my soul.
But, then there's the other side of this story that literally grounds it in reality: the abject poverty of Bernadette's family; the derision she received for being the recipient of such a divine gift, an ignorant, backward, and unhealthy child of no obvious merit; the lowly place the Queen of Heaven chose to be seen -- literally the town dump. Such contradictions: the glory of heaven, the grittiness of earth. The whole thing reminds me of Bethlehem and the lowly stable where the King of Heaven chose to be born... It's a wondrous thing to know, isn't it? That God can appear anywhere -- in the most unlikely of places. That He even seems to seek these places out -- like the Good Shepherd climbing down the cliff, hunting out His stray lambs. He comes and dwells in the hearts that are prepared and beautiful in their love for Him, but He also comes into the poorest and most unprepared of hearts, seeking a place for Himself.
So much to meditate upon. But I better get going this morning. Happy, Happy Feast of Our Lady at Lourdes!
I've posted a couple of times on this feast day before, with a plethora of links and photos. You can go here or here, if you like to learn more about this feast day.
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, pray for us!
St. Bernadette, pray for us!