Date: 10OCT (Monday). LOURDES (Day 8)
This morning, the temperature was at 5ˑC. And then at 7AM (France time) was our
breakfast time in Hotel La Solitude here in Lourdes, France. The breakfast was in a buffet style. And then at 8:10AM we walked to the apparition site, the Grotto of Massabielle (‘old mass’), the spot where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Sobirous, a 14-year-old peasant girl of no significant educational experience, who was later canonized, and identified herself as, “I am the Immaculate Conception” for our 8:30AM Mass. Our Lady of Lourdes is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated in honor of the Marian apparitions. But only to find out that another group of priests from Canada had the same schedule with us and one of them was the main celebrant. I and Frs. Estong and Bonie concelebrated the Mass. The Mass main celebrant was also the homilist. I read the concelebrant 1 part of the Mass. Frs. Bonie and Estong helped in the distribution of Holy Communion. Mass ended at around 9:10AM. I was blessed in concelebrating Mass especially that it was held at the apparition site (in the cave) where Mother Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous. I felt something which I could not explain. Is it the presence of the Lord God Jesus and His Mother, Mary?
Lourdes is a small market town in southwestern France, in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains. It’s known worldwide for the Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes, or the Domain, a major Catholic pilgrimage site. Every year, from all corners of the world, more than six millions visit the Grotto of Massabielle where, in the evening of February 11, 1858, the Virgin Mary, who was indescribably beautiful, appeared to a local woman named Bernadette who went to fetch some firewood with her sister and another companion, on a total of eighteen occasions. Although the Lady did not tell Bernadette her name when asked at first, she told her to return to the grotto. On subsequent visits, the Lady revealed herself to be the ‘Immaculate Conception’ (Que soy era Immaculada Concepciou) and asking that a chapel be built there. At first ridiculed, questioned, and belittled by Church officials and other contemporaries, Soubirous insisted on her vision.
This was a reference to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which had been defined only four years earlier in 1854 by Pope Pius IX, stating that the Virgin Mary herself had been conceived without sin. Bernadette, having only a rudimentary knowledge of the Catholic faith, did not understand what this meant but she reported it to her parish priest, Father Peyremale. He, though initially very skeptical of Bernadette’s claims, became convinced when he heard this because he knew the young girl had no knowledge of the doctrine. The Lady also told Bernadette to dig in the ground at a certain spot and to drink from the small spring of water that began to bubble up. Almost immediately cures were reported from drinking the water. And yet the water has been shown through repeated testing to not have any special curative properties. Today thousands of gallons of water gush from the source of the spring, and pilgrims are able to bathe in it. Countless miracle cures have been documented there, from the healing of nervous disorders and cancers to cases of paralysis and even of blindness. “The estimate that about 4000 cures have been obtained at Lourdes within the first fifty years of the pilgrimage is undoubtedly considerably less than the actual number.” But the Roman Catholic Church has officially recognized 69 healings considered miraculous. During the Apparitions, Bernadette Soubirous prayed the Rosary. Soubirous tried to make the sign of the Cross but she could not, because her hands were trembling. The lady smiled, and invited Soubirous to pray the rosary with her. Soubirous tried to keep this a secret, but Toinette, her sister, told her mother. After parental cross-examination, she and her sister received corporal punishment for their story. Pope John Paul II wrote: “The Rosary of the Virgin Mary is a prayer with great significance, destined to bring fruits of holiness.”
Prior to the mid-19th century, the town was best known for the Château fort de Lourdes, a fortified castle that rises up from a rocky escarpment at its center. This constant stream of pilgrims and tourists transformed quiet Lourdes into the second most important center of tourism in France, second only to Paris, and the third most important site of international Catholic pilgrimage after Rome and the Holy Land.
Today Lourdes has a population of around 15,000 (2015), but it is able to take in some 5,000,000 pilgrims and tourists every season. With about 270 hotels, Lourdes has the second greatest number of hotels per square kilometer in France after Paris. Some of the deluxe hotels like Grand Hotel Moderne, Hotel Grand de la Grotte, Hotel St. Etienne, Hotel Majestic and Hotel Roissy are located here.
Pilgrims can drink or bathe in water flowing from a spring in the grotto.
Bishop Gutierrez decided not to attend today’s activity here in Lourdes, France because of what happened yesterday in Covadonga, Asturias, Spain. For me it was a good decision because the temperature was at 5ˑC.
After the Mass, our French tour guide, Cristiana, toured us around the area of apparition and explained to us many things. What surprised me was the fact that the uncorruptible body of St. Bernadette Soubirous was not in Lourdes but in Nevers, France, in a monastery chapel where she once a nun after the apparition. The tour guide told us also where to drink water and wash our face; the bathe site and then went to St. Bernadette Church. We then proceeded to the underground church, the Basilica of St. Pius X that could accommodate 25,000 people. The Basilica of Saint Pius X, informally known as the Underground Basilica, is a large Roman Catholic Church and minor basilica, located in the town of Lourdes, France. It is part of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. Lourdes is a major Catholic pilgrimage site and the Catholic Church. The Basilica of St. Pius X is the largest and most controversial of the Domain’s churches. It was completed in 1958 in anticipation of the enormous crowds expected in Lourdes for the centenary of the Apparitions. A modern, concrete building, it is almost entirely underground (part of the building lies beneath the Boulevard Père Rémi Sempé above
After our visit to the underground church, we went to the house of St. Bernadette, her former house where she was born up to she was 10 years old at the time the girl saw visions of the Virgin Mary. The house is located at 2 Rue Bernadette Soubirous, the house of Bernadette’s parents includes a mill, kitchen, Bernadette’s bedroom, various objects, photographs, and the like. I was moved when I visited the house where Saint Bernadette was born and lived ten years in her childhood. The exhibition of the living condition of the happy family inside the house is well preserved: the wood mill of her father, the small kitchen, table, and chair. This is a place much worth of a visit. When their business went bankrupt, they transferred to a very small house. Bernadette was the eldest.
After our visit to the house of St. Bernadette, together with Fr. Bonie Ampoyas, Nathaniel and Darrel Caballero, we had our lunch at Hotel La Solitude restaurant and we ordered black rice faella and I also ordered Coca-cola.
After lunch, at 1:40PM, we went back to the apparition site for our taking a bath session. The place of bath opened at 2PM. We waited for several minutes. I prayed for my own healing, parents, families, and others whom I know.
After taking a bath, I went back to the hotel to get some Euro because I wanted to buy
some souvenirs of the place. I met Nathaniel Caballero when I was about to enter the hotel entrance. He wanted to attend the Eucharistic procession and exposition. And I told him to wait for me because I would like also to join. After which, I went down from my hotel room to the lobby and I and Nathaniel proceeded to attend the Eucharistic procession and exposition at the St. Pius X Basilica. The Eucharistic procession and exposition was presided by a bishop. Many were attended. And at 5:45PM it was finished and went out from the Church and went back to the apparition site because Nathaniel wanted to get some water; then went back to the hotel.
While on our way to the hotel, we looked for some souvenirs again and I bought a rosary bed with mother pearl worth 32,00 and then went back to the hotel and have some rest while waiting for our 7PM dinner.
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