Shrine of Lourdes in France Essay Sample

Shrine of Lourdes in France Pages
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Introduction

            An existing event is not unusual for every religion to announce any miracle in its faith. It is part of the beliefs that they kept for such a long time. The presentation of miracles in every religion improves the spiritual life of a person.

            In this paper, a Roman Catholic miracle is to be discussed giving a detailed presentation of the same. The Catholic faith has been widely recognized because of this miracle that happened in France so many years ago. The miracle sprung out of visions to a young girl named Bernadette Soubirious.

Figure 1. A photo of Bernadette Soubirious Taken from http://www.biographyonline.net/spiritual/bernadette-soubirious.html.

            Bernadette Soubirious is a 14-year girl who witnessed apparitions or visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.[1] The apparitions happened in a grotto wherein the young Bernadette is a regular visitor. The Blessed Virgin Mary or otherwise known as the Blessed is very much respected for the Catholics for its well-known compassion for the people. As such, people around the world are overwhelmed of the said miracle through Bernadette Soubirious.

            The place named Lourdes in France became well-known because of the miracle accorded to Bernadette Soubirious[2]. That popularity was intensified by the presence of pilgrims from all over the world paying homage to the shrine in Lourdes. As such, these people who visited the place are aware of its religious history.

            The family members of the Soubirious family are loving and devoted, that is why Bernadette grew up faithful and true[3]. She was born on January 7, 1844 in Lourdes, France[4]. It was never known that the Soubirious household was originally wealthy, yet due to various experiences of losses and financial hardships, the family became poor[5]. That experience of poverty resulted to the arrest of her father and they later on lived in a room that used to be a prison cell.

            Moreover, even if the family of Bernadette experienced that kind of misfortunes in life, all of them remained faithful to God and caring for each other. Her parents taught the children right conduct that is they were able to accept their fate in life. Her brothers and sisters never complained of the hardships that they encountered. In connection with that, Bernadette is well-known in her community for being kind and courteous. She is also known to be sickly[6]. Her sickness made her disregard her education and schooling was never a priority. At the time that Bernadette was only 14 years old, she studied with seven year old children with the subject catechism[7]. Because of that, she was held to be ignorant of many things in the world especially when it comes to religion. According to Biography Online, she never understood the topic on Immaculate Conception which became part of her journey in life[8]

Bernadette’s First Vision of the Blessed Lady

            Bernadette described what she saw as beautiful lady. Sometime on February 11, 1858, she experienced her first vision with the Blessed Lady[9]. In a certain place within Lourdes, France, there was a grotto that was so rubbish wherein Bernadette used to pass by. It was located near a river. The first vision happened when Bernadette was collecting firewood that she stumbled in the said grotto. At that time, she was not alone since she was with her friends who are also collecting firewood. However, when she stumbled in the grotto, her friends left here and she was alone in silence and awe.

Bernadette described what she witnessed in her own words. According to the Biography Online, she mentioned that she was removing her stockings in the grotto before the vision happened[10]. She had a hard time taking off her stockings because she heard a sound akin to a gust of wind. Upon hearing it, she turned her head looking at the meadow. It was at the time when the tress stood still in the meadows and while she was still taking off her stockings when the Blessed Lady appeared before her[11]. After she raised her head looking at the grotto, she witnessed the Lady dressed in pure white. The Blessed Lady also wore a blue girdle and a yellow rose on each foot which is similar of the color of the chain of the rosary. White is the color of the rosary beads. Bernadette obviously felt bewildered at that time since for her, it was a strange event. However, as moments passed by, she felt at peace and her astonishment was overcome by it.

Figure 2. A photo of Bernadette Soubirious Taken from http://www.biographyonline.net/spiritual/bernadette-soubirious.html.

            On the part of Bernadette, she was reluctant in informing her companions about what happened. It was her mixed emotions that deter her from telling other people of what she witnessed in the grotto. However, when her friends knew about the event, they informed her parents about it. From the time on, her parents prevented her from going to the grotto again. She was not allowed to visit the said place for the second time. Bernadette thought of not going back to the place since she was so obedient of her parents[12]. However, there was a compelling reason to disobey her parents. It is as if a very powerful tug in her heart that brought her to the place again. Her inward thoughts compelled her to visit the grotto then.

            As such, after Sunday services in the church, Bernadette returned to the grotto.  For the second time, she witnessed another presence of the Blessed Lady. The next time she saw the Blessed Lady was on February within the year[13]. At this time, she was accompanied by older people who summoned her to take pen and paper. She was so prepared to be with the Blessed Lady and the latter spoke to her for the first time. She was informed that it was not necessary for her to write anything. However, there was request from the Blessed Lady that she should be present in the grotto at nighttime[14].

On the third visit of the Lady, it communicated to Bernadette that she could not vow to make her joyful in the world yet only in the next life[15]. During that meeting with the Lady, people in the village speculated about it. Within the community where Lourdes lives, people are so interested to know more about the apparition. The people who are so interested in the visions accompanied her every time she would visit the grotto. People who are present every time Bernadette was in the grotto are so reverent that they managed to remain calm in the situation[16]. These witnesses are grateful of the experience they had in the grotto of Lourdes. One witness even mentioned that she was so happy being in the venue since she felt near in heaven. She also mentioned that respect, silence and peace is present all over the area. For that witness, it was good to be present in the famous grotto.

Criticism and Disbelief of Bernadette

Figure 3. A photo of Bernadette Soubirious Taken from http://www.biographyonline.net/spiritual/bernadette-soubirious.html

            The experiences of Bernadette with the Blessed Lady gave her so many problems. Yet, despite the problems, she was able to surpass the test of time. She remained true to what she witnessed in the grotto.

            It may be said that people in the area believed that there was a miracle existed in their village, however others thought otherwise. Many people are also suspicious on Bernadette and they expressed being critical on her[17]. The police and town elders caused her to be questioned for so many times. Bernadette underwent medical tests to prove that she was insane[18]. The pressures around her prevented her to go back to the grotto. It was difficult for her since she developed great love and devotion to the Blessed Lady. Nevertheless, when she was brought under cross examination she remained an aura of being childlike with innocence that exudes a relentless faith in the sincerity of the experiences she had gone through[19]. In connection with that, in spite of recurrent and forceful assessment by the police officers in the town, they were not capable of finding flaws in her statements. In fact, Bernadette did not try to overstate or significantly yield from her experiences[20]. That made her statements genuine and implacable.

The Miracle That Bernadette Knew and the Spring of Lourdes

Figure 4. A photo of Bernadette Soubirious Taken from http://www.biographyonline.net/spiritual/bernadette-soubirious.html.

            The miracle that was witnessed by pilgrims in Lourdes happened when the ninth vision occurred[21]. The Blessed Lady asked her to drink the water of the spring. However, Bernadette noticed that there was no spring in the place that she was standing. As such, she started digging in the area using her hands. She drank some water in the muddy patch. The people felt suspicious when the Lady requested Bernadette to eat some loose grasses[22]. The act was so disgusting that the people who witnessed the event do not like it. Thus, the relatives of Bernadette wiped her face and helped her on the act. Other people thought that the act was fraud and irrational making them dismayed at the time.

On the other hand, the miracle happened on the following days wherein water was in progress to flood from the spring that Bernadette had been digging[23]. The said spring made the people experience miraculous healing even up to this time. The said grotto remained one of the great attractions of Lourdes even up to this day.

Because of this incident, many interviews were conducted out of questions regarding the event. The speculations of so many people intensified. What provoked the elders of the town is the request of the Blessed Lady that a chapel should be built in the area. It even reached to the parish priest upon request of the Lady through Bernadette[24]. At first, the parish priest of the area faced Bernadette with hostility and skepticism. The name of the parish priest is Father Dominique Peyramale, who later on deeply supported Bernadette of her cause.[25] The said parish priest was even considered as the best ally of Bernadette during the time.

Yet, on March 25 on the same year, a statement of the Lady was mentioned to Bernadette which states that “I am the Immaculate Conception”[26]. As we knew, Bernadette does not understand the meaning of the words. She was not that educated enough to fathom what the Lady shared to her. In addition, the doctrine on the Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary had only lately been accepted by the Vatican[27]. However, Bernadette recorded the words privately in her mind and heart to avoid forgetting them prior to a verbal communication of the words to her astounded parish priest[28].

On Friday July 16 on the same year, Bernadette completed a single ultimate pilgrimage to the Lady[29]. At that time, she was not allowed to enter the grotto. The instructions of the local police as well as the bishop are clear that she is not allowed to be in the grotto. Yet, even from corner to corner in the river, she felt that the lady was as near to her as in the cave[30].

Her faith to the Lady made her easy to complete her pilgrimage despite the obstructions of the local authorities and the bishop of the place. Obviously, Bernadette and the Lady made goodbyes to each other. It was done in utter silence that the people were no able to deeply fathom. Throughout the apparitions of the Blessed Lady, the Virgin Mary completed quite a lot of revelations to Bernadette[31]. She requested Bernadette to perform acts of faith. The Blessed Lady asked Bernadette to do penance and pray for sinners[32]. At the time, a secret was mentioned to Bernadette by the Blessed Lady. Up to this day, Bernadette did not mention that secret. She remained true to the Lady and kept her vow. The last pilgrimage that she had accomplished in the grotto completed her meeting with the Blessed Lady. People are still suspicious of her, but nevertheless, there are still many people who supported her during the event. They did not turn their hearts away from the statements made by Bernadette and thus comforted her in every way.

Miracles in the Shrine of Lourdes in France

            There were many specific experiences in the Shrine of Lourdes. In line with that, Caroll pointed out that those apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary are part of the Catholic faith for the last thousand years[33]. Those apparitions also affect the lives of faithful Catholics around the world. There were many pilgrims every year coming from other countries that managed to visit different locations were these visions occurred. Caroll mentioned that in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s, more than a million people conducted pilgrimage in France at the shrine of Lourdes[34].

            In connection with that, the University of Dayton also pointed out that apparitions are common in Marian phenomenon[35]. In fact, many people do not reject the said phenomenon outright, but instead tried to investigate for that matter[36]. Display of emotional attachment as well as irrational behavior is part and parcel of any activities involved in pilgrimage for the Blessed Lady in Lourdes France. Roten commented then that apparitions are the ways and means in which God can communicate with his children as the Catholics believed it to be so[37]. Such communication through any person chosen to be the mediator such as Bernadette Soubirious in this case will be considered as a message from God. These messages will be shared to other people around the world and will spread like wildfire.

            Aside from that, it was shared by Chrisafis that the popularity of the Lourdes Shrine started in the year 1858, when the Blessed Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirious for eighteen times[38]. The message of the Blessed Lady at the time and I quote was that, “pray and do penance for the conversion of the world”[39]. In the year 1882, there were many doctors who are requested to examine the miracles that happened in Lourdes. With that, there were two well-known miracles that happened in the place. Chrisafis mentioned that when Gabriel Gargam was paralyzed in a crash in the year 1882, he was dipped in a font and was healed[40]. He walked again as a result of the miracle that existed in Lourdes. Another one is the case of Royal Marine John Traynor, who was injured in World War I [41]. In the year 1923, he was dipped in a pool nine times, and his paralyzed legs were then healed[42].

            In addition, Pope John Paul II also visited the place in Lourdes while he was in a state of illness[43]. The Pope was frail-looking when he visited the place. He even lost his balance when he prayed before the grotto. One of his intentions in going there is to join the thousands of pilgrims that are present in Lourdes. If we could remember Carrel who was said to have a brush with immortality when he witnessed a miracle healing in Lourdes, this is another example when the place was known for its cure for physical illness[44]. In the year 1910, Carrel witnessed the healing of an 18-month year old blind boy who gained sight after being cured in Lourdes[45]. Another person cured was Marie Bailly who suffered tuberculosis peritonitis[46]. She was also cured because of the miraculous water in the grotto where Bernadette Soubirous saw the Blessed Lady.

            Moreover, Nickell presented that one of the most important of the Marian apparitions was that purportedly viewed in 1858 by fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous, at a grotto close to Lourdes, a municipality in the foothills of the Pyrenees[47]. As such, the parish priest identified the situation a deception[48]. Several visions of Bernadette founded in her being bound for to a concealed jump in the grotto that had “healing” waters[49]. In spite of countless problems over the superseding years, a small number of cases have been qualified as phenomenal or rather as medically mysterious[50]. However, one such disappointment is that of Bernadette herself, who died at a young age when she suffered tuberculosis of the bone for long a long time[51].

Life after the Apparitions

            Bernadette Soubirous lived a peaceful life. She never sought for publicity of the experiences she encountered in the grotto. She was just become famous due to the witnesses who saw what happened in Lourdes and shared the message to other people. It reached to the different faithful Catholics all over the world and they started their pilgrimage to the grotto in search of truth. The miracles of Lourdes had become a momentous countrywide affair, attracting the consideration of numerous citizens from all over the state.

         For a period of two years, Bernadette patiently meets many people who are considered her well-wishers. These visitors also include skeptics, disbelievers as well as curious people who wanted to be directly near Bernadette[52]. There were many reports that Bernadette was so patient and kind in meeting these people in her place. There may be uninvited visitors, but she was so tolerant on them. The good thing is that, even those who are considered skeptics were overwhelmed with her obvious genuineness, humbleness and candor[53]. There was a report that as she remembered and shared her memories of meeting the Blessed Lady, her eyes would glow showing an influential credibility to her recollections.

Bibliography

Angelique Chrisafis, “Miracles”, Guardian News and Media, (2006): [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/mar/09/france.religion.]; available from Guardian News and Media, p. 1-3.

Cable News Network, “Suffering Pope at Lourdes Shrine”, Cable News Network (2004):  [http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/08/14/france.pope/index.html]; available from

            Cable News Network, p. 1.

Joe Nickel, “Examining Miracle Claims”, Internet Infidels (2008): [http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/joe_nickell/miracles.html]; available from Biography Online, p. 1-2.

Johann Roten, “Apparitions’, University of Dayton (2008): [http://campus.udayton.edu/

            /apparitions.html.]; available from University of Dayton, p. 1-2.

Michael Caroll, “The Virgin Mary at Lasalette and Lourdes: Whom Did The Children See?”, Jstor (1985): 56-74.

Rev. Stanley Jaki, “Two Lourdes Miracles and a Nobel Laureate”, Catholic Culture, Trinity Communications (2008): http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?

            recnum=2866]; available from Trinity Communications, p. 1-2.

Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): [http://www.biographyonline.net/spiritual/bernadette-soubirious.html.]; available from Military Review, p. 1-5.

[1] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[2] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[3] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[4] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[5] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[6] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[7] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[8] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[9] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[10] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[11]

[12] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[13] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[14] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[15] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[16] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[17]Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[18] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[19] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[20] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[21] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[22] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[23] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[24] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[25] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[26] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[27] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[28] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[29] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[30] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[31] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[32] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[33] Michael Caroll, “The Virgin Mary at Lasalette and Lourdes: Whom Did The Children See?”, Jstor (1985): 56-74.

[34] Michael Caroll, “The Virgin Mary at Lasalette and Lourdes: Whom Did The Children See?”, Jstor (1985): 56-74.

[35] Johann Roten, “Apparitions’, University of Dayton (2008): 1-2, http://campus.udayton.edu/Mary//apparitions.html.

[36] Johann Roten, “Apparitions’, University of Dayton (2008): 1-2, http://campus.udayton.edu/Mary//apparitions.html.

[37] Johann Roten, “Apparitions’, University of Dayton (2008): 1-2, http://campus.udayton.edu/Mary//apparitions.html.

[38] Angelique Chrisafis, “Miracles”, Guardian News and Media, (2006): 1-2, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/mar/09/france.religion.

[39] Angelique Chrisafis, “Miracles”, Guardian News and Media, (2006): 1-2, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/mar/09/france.religion.

[40] Angelique Chrisafis, “Miracles”, Guardian News and Media, (2006): 1-2, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/mar/09/france.religion.

[41] Angelique Chrisafis, “Miracles”, Guardian News and Media, (2006): 1-2, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/mar/09/france.religion.

[42] Angelique Chrisafis, “Miracles”, Guardian News and Media, (2006): 1-2, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/mar/09/france.religion.

[43] Cable News Network, “Suffering Pope at Lourdes Shrine”, Cable News Network (2004): 1-2, http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/08/14/france.pope/index.html

[44] Rev. Stanley Jaki, “Two Lourdes Miracles and a Nobel Laureate”, Catholic Culture, Trinity Communications (2008): 1-2 http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=2866

[45] Rev. Stanley Jaki, “Two Lourdes Miracles and a Nobel Laureate”, Catholic Culture, Trinity Communications (2008): 1-2 http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=2866

[46] Rev. Stanley Jaki, “Two Lourdes Miracles and a Nobel Laureate”, Catholic Culture, Trinity Communications (2008): 1-2 http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=2866

[47] Joe Nickell, “Examining Miracle Claims”, Internet Infidels (2008): 1-2, http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/joe_nickell/miracles.html

[48] Joe Nickell, “Examining Miracle Claims”, Internet Infidels (2008): 1-2, http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/joe_nickell/miracles.html

[49] Joe Nickell, “Examining Miracle Claims”, Internet Infidels (2008): 1-2, http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/joe_nickell/miracles.html

[50] Joe Nickell, “Examining Miracle Claims”, Internet Infidels (2008): 1-2, http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/joe_nickell/miracles.html

[51] Joe Nickell, “Examining Miracle Claims”, Internet Infidels (2008): 1-2, http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/joe_nickell/miracles.html

[52] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

[53] Tejvan Pettinger, “Biography of Bernadette Soubirious”, Biography Online (2007): 1-2.

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