Our Lady of Lourdes is one of the most well-known Marian apparitions in the world, having become a symbol of hope and faith for Catholics around the globe. The apparition occurred in 1858 in the town of Lourdes, located in the southwestern part of France, and it is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to a young peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous.
Bernadette was born on January 7, 1844, and was the eldest of six children. Her family was extremely poor, and they lived in a small, one-room house. When Bernadette was 14 years old, she was out gathering firewood with her sister and a friend when she had her first encounter with the Virgin Mary. She saw a beautiful lady dressed in white who was standing in a grotto. Her account of this moment is recorded:
“I had gone down one day with two other girls to the bank of the river Gave when suddenly I heard a kind of rustling sound. I turned my head toward the field by the side of the river, but the trees seemed quite still and the noise was evidently not from them. Then I looked up and caught sight of the cave where I saw a lady wearing a lovely white dress with a bright belt. On top of each of her feet was a pale yellow rose, the same color as her rosary beads. At this I rubbed my eyes, thinking I was seeing things, and I put my hands into the fold of my dress where my rosary was. I wanted to make the sign of the cross, but for the life of me I couldn’t manage it, and my hand just fell down. Then the lady made the sign of the cross herself, and at the second attempt I managed to do the same, though my hands were trembling. Then I began to say the rosary while the lady let her beads clip through her fingers, without moving her lips. When I stopped saying the Hail Mary, she immediately vanished. I asked my two companions if they had noticed anything, but they said no. Of course, they wanted to know what I was doing, and I told them that I had seen a lady wearing a nice white dress, though I didn’t know who she was. I told them not to say anything about it, and they said I was silly to have anything to do with it. I said they were wrong, and I came back next Sunday, feeling myself drawn to the place…. The third time I went, the lady spoke to me and asked me to come every day for fifteen days. I said I would and then she said that she wanted me to tell the priests to build a chapel there. She also told me to drink from the stream. I went to the Gave, the only stream I could see. Then she made me realize she was not speaking of the Gave, and she indicated a little trickle of water close by. When I got to it I could only find a few drops, mostly mud. I cupped my hands to catch some liquid without success, and then I started to scrape the ground. I managed to find a few drops of water, but only at the fourth attempt was there sufficient for any kind of a drink. The lady then vanished and I went back home. I went back each day for fifteen days, and each time, except one Monday and one Friday, the lady appeared and told me to look for a stream and wash in it and to see that the priests build a chapel there. I must also pray, she said, for the conversion of sinners. I asked her many times what she meant by that, but she only smiled. Finally, with outstretched arms and eyes looking up to heaven, she told me she was the Immaculate Conception. During the fifteen days she told me three secrets, but I was not to speak about them to anyone, and so far I have not.”
The apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes were met with skepticism at first, but Bernadette's sincerity and humility won over many believers. The local bishop conducted an investigation into the apparitions and eventually declared them to be authentic. The church then declared Lourdes to be a holy site, and the Grotto of Massabielle became a place of pilgrimage.
Today, millions of people visit Lourdes every year, seeking spiritual and physical healing. Many people have reported being healed after bathing in the waters of the spring, and the church has recognized dozens of these healings as miraculous. One such account is of Marie Bailly. When she arrived at the healing baths, she said she was overcome with emotion. She felt a strong sense of faith and believed that she was in the presence of something truly divine. She immersed herself in the water, praying for a miracle.
As she emerged from the water, Marie felt a warmth spreading through her body. She could feel the illness lifting from her, and for the first time in years, she felt truly alive. Overwhelmed with joy and gratitude, she fell to her knees and wept tears of happiness.
Word of Marie's miraculous healing quickly spread throughout Lourdes, and soon people from all over the world were coming to hear her story. She became a beacon of hope for the sick and suffering, and many believed that her healing was a sign of God's love and mercy.
Marie returned home a changed woman. She was filled with a renewed sense of purpose and determination to live life to the fullest. She shared her story with anyone who would listen, and many were inspired by her faith and resilience.
Years later, Marie would look back on that day in Lourdes as a turning point in her life. She knew that it was only through the grace of God that she had been healed, and she remained forever grateful for the miracle that had changed her life.
As noted earlier, the Blessed Mother also revealed herself to Bernadette under the title of "The Immaculate Conception." This title was so profound, that years later, some of the best known theologians including St. Maximilian Kolbe would write about it: "Who then are you, O Immaculate Conception? Not God, of course, because He has no beginning. Not an angel, created directly out of nothing. Not Adam, formed out of the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7). Not Eve, molded from Adam’s rib (Gen. 2:21). Not the Incarnate Word, Who exists before all ages, and of Whom we should use the word “conceived” rather than “conception.” Humans do not exist before their conception, so we might call them created “conceptions.” But you, O Mary, are different from all other children of Eve. They are conceptions stained by original sin; whereas you are the unique, Immaculate Conception." At Lourdes, the Blessed Mother did not say of herself that she had been conceived immaculately, but rather, “Que soy era immaculada councepciou”: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Indeed a theological statement well beyond Bernadettes minimal schooling and most scholars of the day.
Today, the Lourdes grotto is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in the world, attracting millions of people every year. To honor this very special place, we have designed several of our rosaries to include a vintage filigree Lourdes center. We also have a beautiful single decade Lourdes rosary.
We have several rosaries with the Lourdes center pictured below. See our Pink Rhodonite Lourdes rosary by clicking here: