On this day in 1858: the apparition of Our Lady at Lourdes

The first in a long series of apparitions and miraculous occurrences took place in the small town of Lourdes on February 11.

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France:

On Feb. 11, the Catholic Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, recalling a series of 18 appearances that the Blessed Virgin Mary made to a 14-year-old French peasant girl, Saint Bernadette Soubirous.

The Marian apparitions began Feb. 11, 1858, ended July 16 that year and received the local bishop’s approval after a four-year inquiry.

Coming soon after the 1854 dogmatic definition of her Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Mary’s appearances at Lourdes turned the town into a popular travel destination. Thousands of people say their medical conditions have been cured through pilgrimage, prayer and the water flowing from a spring to which Bernadette was directed by the Blessed Virgin. Experts have verified 67 cases of miraculous healing at Lourdes since 1862.

St. Bernadette also has her own liturgical memorial, which occurs Feb. 18 in France and Canada and April 16 elsewhere. Born in January 1844, the future visionary was the first child of her parents Francois and Louise, who both worked in a mill run by Francois. Their family life was loving but difficult. Many of Bernadette’s siblings died in childhood, and she developed asthma. Economic hardship and an injury suffered by her father cost them the mill in 1854.

Years of poverty followed, during which Bernadette often had to live apart from her parents and work rather than attending school. In January 1858 she returned to her family, whose members were living in a cramped single room. Strongly committed to her faith, Bernadette made an effort to learn the Church’s teachings despite her lack of formal education.

On Feb. 11, 1858, Bernadette went to gather firewood with her sister and a friend. As she approached a grotto near a river, she saw a light coming from a spot near a rosebush. The light surrounded a woman who wore a white dress and held a rosary. Seeing the lady in white make the sign of the Cross, Bernadette knelt, took out her own rosary, and began to pray. When she finished praying, the woman motioned for her to approach. But she remained still, and the vision disappeared.

Her companions had seen nothing. Bernadette described the lady in white to them, demanding they tell no one. But the secret came out later that day. The next Sunday, Bernadette returned to the grotto, where she saw the woman again. The identity of the apparition, however, would remain unknown for several weeks.

Some adults accompanied Bernadette on her third trip, on Feb. 18, though they did not see the vision she received. The woman in white asked the girl to return for two weeks. “She told me also,” Bernadette later wrote, “that she did not promise to make me happy in this world, but in the next.” A group of family members and others went with her to the cave the next day, but only the young peasant girl saw the woman and heard her words.

Over the next few days, the number of people in attendance at the cave swelled to more than 100. A parish priest, Father Peyramale, became concerned – as did the police. On Feb. 24, 250 people saw Bernadette break into tears, but only she heard the woman’s message: “Penance! Penance! Penance! Pray to God for sinners. Go, kiss the ground for the conversion of sinners.”

A larger crowd was there on Feb. 25 – but they were shocked to see Bernadette drinking from a muddy stream and eating weeds. The apparition had told her to drink the water, and the weed-eating was a penitential act. Onlookers, meanwhile, saw only the girl’s unusual behavior, and popular fascination turned to ridicule and suspicion.

On Feb. 27, Bernadette made a joyful discovery: the spring from which she drank was not muddy now, but clear. As the crowds continued to gather, this change was noticed, and a woman with a paralyzed arm came to the water hoping to be healed. Four years later, her case would be recognized as the first miraculous healing at Lourdes. Public interest continued, and Bernadette heard a recurring message from the vision: “Go, tell the priests to bring people here in procession and have a chapel built here.”

While others were quick to conclude that Bernadette was seeing the Virgin Mary, the visionary herself did not claim to know the woman’s identity. As she conveyed the repeated message to Fr. Peyramale, the priest grew frustrated and told Bernadette to ask the woman her name. But when she did so, the woman smiled and remained silent. Her identity remained a mystery after the initial two-week period.

Three weeks later, on the Feast of the Annunciation, Bernadette visited the cave again. When she saw the lady, she kept asking to know her identity. Finally, the woman folded her hands, looked up and said: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The seer, devout but uneducated, did not know what these words meant. She related them to Fr. Peyramale, who was stunned and informed his bishop.

Saint Bernadette Soubirous of the Lourdes Appa...

Saint Bernadette Soubirous of the Lourdes Apparitions, 1858. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Source: Catholic News Agency

The Apparition Of Our Lady ,France ,Lourdes ,Our Lady Of Lourdes ,Marian Apparitions

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Catholics are not the only ones seeking miracles from St Anthony

Legacy of St Anthony strongly felt in Bangladesh.

 

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 Devotees Venerating St. Anthony’s Statue.

Gazipur:

Pushpa Costa had to wait for an hour before she could touch and kiss the statue of the “Miracle Saint,” St Anthony of Padua, on his annual feast day on Friday.

For a quarter century she has made the pilgrimage to this shrine, located in the village of Panjora in Gazipur district north of the capital – the most popular of the country’s Catholic shrines – to offer thanks for the miracles she says she has been granted.

“Many years ago, my husband was seriously ill from a peptic ulcer and unable to eat. Doctors feared he would die if the condition continued much longer. I cried to St Anthony for his recovery and promised that I would come every year with my family to thank him,” said Costa, 61, the mother of three.

Her husband survived and now works abroad. One of her daughters has become a nun.

“It’s by the grace of St Anthony that my family has lived in happiness and peace all these years,” she said. “St Anthony can fulfill any wish if one prays to him with deep faith.”

But Catholics are not the only ones who put their faith and hope in the Portuguese saint.

Rita Rani Banik, 50, a Hindu, says she also has good reasons to thank the popular saint. She traveled about 100 kilometers to attend this year’s feast day.

“Four years ago my husband paid about 250,000 taka [US$ 3,125] to local agents to get a job in Dubai, but he was deported within two weeks of arriving because his passport and other documents were forged,” she said.

Unable to trace the local agents to get a refund, she came to know about St Anthony’s reputation as a finder of “lost goods and valuables.”

“I promised a manot [a gift for granting a favor] to St Anthony and it worked. We were able to get most of the money back and it was crucial for our five-member family,” she said, adding that it was just the beginning of St Anthony’s blessings.

“Three years ago, my eldest daughter became seriously ill with a high fever, just before her HSC exams [final high school exams]. I prayed to St Anthony for her. She is happily married now and has recently given birth to a boy,” Banik said, adding that saints such as Anthony are for the benefit of all people.

Like Costa and Banik, many of the thousands attending the feast consider the saint no less than a demigod who can fulfill any prayer.

In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, where Christians account for less than a half percent of the estimated 150 million population, devotion to Mother Mary and St Anthony is widespread.

Although St Anthony’s actual feast day is commemorated on June 13, the event is held in February when the weather is more comfortable for pilgrims.

Attracting about 50,000 people annually, the St Anthony pilgrimage is the largest Christian gathering in the country. The other half dozen shrines in the country, including those devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mother Mary, attract only about 10,000 people.

Legend has it that the son of a Hindu saminder, or landlord, was kidnapped by Arakanese pirates but later freed by a Portuguese missionary priest. The former captive converted to Christianity and took the name Dom Antonio.

Since that time he has often been confused with St Anthony.

Dom Antonio began to preach in the Bhawal and Atharogram areas north of Dhaka and is credited with the conversion of thousands of lower caste Hindus and establishing these areas as the oldest and largest Catholic settlements in the country.

Father Theotonius Proshanto Rebeiro, parish priest of St Nicholas of Tolentino Church in Nagari says the story of Dom Antonio, as much as the historical reverence for St Anthony, has spurred tens of thousands of people to visit the region each year for the feast day celebration.

“He pioneered evangelization and popular devotion to St Anthony among the people.”

St Anthony of Padua Church

St Anthony of Padua Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Source: ucanews.com

Gazipur ,Miracles ,St Anthony ,Miracle Saint ,Portuguese Saint ,

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