Our Lady of Lourdes

In the midst of our remembrances of Pope Benedict XVI’s historic resignation, let’s not forget that today is also the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.


O holy Virgin, in the midst of your days of glory, do not forget the sorrows of this earth. Cast a merciful glance upon those who are suffering, struggling against difficulties, with their lips constantly pressed against life’s bitter cup. Have pity on those who love each other and are separated. Have pity on our rebellious hearts. Have pity on our weak faith. Have pity on those we love. Have pity on those who weep, on those who pray, on those who fear. Grant hope and peace to all. Amen.

Here are some impressions from my visit to Lourdes, in December 2013.

The famous, miraculous grotto, with its image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, as pilgrims visit it during the day. It was cold.

Click to enlarge.

Here is the same grotto at night, during the candlelight procession. This was on the vigil of the 80th anniversary of the Canonization of St. Bernardette Soubirous, who had the visions of Our Lady in this place as a young girl.

Everyone customarily raises their candles at the beautiful singing of the “Gloria Patri” (Glory Be prayer) in Latin.

Here is a smaller-scale replica of the famous bronze statue of St. Peter – the original is in St. Peter’s in Rome. The faithful traditionally touch his feet as they ask for his intercession, hence they are really worn down (the feet, hopefully not those who are praying). It seems that this statue was placed in honor of the declaration of the Dogma of Papal Infallibility at the First Vatican Council in 1870, given the prayer that is inscribed on its base. I translate the prayer at the bottom of this post – be sure to have a look, and say it. This is part of our faith.

The original statue in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is either 800 or 1600 years old (give or take), depending on which scholar’s opinion you prefer. In any case, I believe that its feet have been replaced at various times over the centuries, given how much they have been worn down. I could be wrong about that, but I thought I read it somewhere.

Finally, one of my favorite things to find in old churches, and something that is particularly beloved in France: some ex votos. These were in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (the big church above the grotto of Lourdes).

The French one right below the central English ones says “Thank you to Our Lady for my healing”.

Here is my translation of that prayer on the St. Peter statue base:

in the Dogma of Papal Infallibility.

Lord Jesus: cover, with the protection of your Sacred Heart, our Holy Father the Pope, in the infallibility in which we firmly believe.

“He who hears you hears me.” – St. Luke 10:16

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