Thursday, 21 November 2013

Lourdes: Diary of the apparitions in 1858 et en suivant

Thanks to the kindness of a friend, I have been able to retrieve many notes locked in old floppy disks. I shall publish some of them as I manage to render them into a readable form.

17 Feb: “a young girl dressed in white, holding a rosary” first appeared to Bernadette in the grotto at Massabielle.

24 Feb: “the Lady” called for penance.

25 Feb: “the Lady” asked Bernadette to dig with her hands in the ground and when she did so immediately a well sprung up and “the Lady” told Bernadette to drink from and wash in the new spring.

27 Feb: “the Lady” asked Bernadette to have a chapel built at the grotto so that the people might come there in procession.

2 March: “the Lady” repeated her request of 27 Feb.

25 Mar: On this day, the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord, during the 16th apparition “the Lady” told Bernadette in her own local dialect “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

3 Jun: Bernadette receives her First Holy Communion.

16 Jul: On this the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, The Blessed Virgin Mary, The Immaculate Conception, appeared to Bernadette for the last time (here on Earth).

Lourdes after the apparitions

1858: The first cures reported.

1861: The first commission held to examine claims of cures considered 100 cases and declared 15 of them miraculous.

1862: A marble statue was carved faithful to Bernadette’s description of “the Lady”. The building of a Gothic church, and not as requested a humble chapel, was begun.

1871: The first Mass was celebrated in the church.

1872: After the Franco-Prussian War had ended, pilgrims flocked to Lourdes from all parts of France.

1876: Archbishop Guibert of Paris in the presence of 100,000 pilgrims consecrated the church as a minor basilica. The Papal nuncio to France crowned the statue.

1882: A medical bureau established at Lourdes to conduct initial medical assessments of purported cures. Cases considered valid are asked to return in the following year. If a claim is subsequently still considered to be meritorious it is referred on to the International Medical Commission of Lourdes based at Paris. Appropriate cases are referred by this Commission on to a canonical commission in the patient’s home diocese. It is up to the bishop of that diocese to declare as to whether or not he is satisfied that a cure is truly miraculous. By 1959 the number of alleged cures was about 5,000 of which the church authorities have declared 58 miraculous. [Most nervous and neurological conditions are excluded from consideration. Miraculous cures have been accepted in cases of cancer, tuberculosis and blindness.]

1883: Work began on a second church with 15 chapels to cope with the huge increase in the number of pilgrims. The church was completed in 1901.

1891: Pope Leo XIII, who had had built a Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican gardens, approved an Office and Mass for Lourdes for the Province of Aud of which the Diocese of Tarbes was a part.

1907: Pope Pius X promoted the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes for the Universal Church.

1912: The Diocese of Tarbes was renamed “Tarbes and Lourdes”. Thereafter the Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes took up residence in Lourdes from May to October (roughly the pilgrimage “season”) each year.

1926: The second church was also consecrated a minor basilica, the Rosary Basilica.


1958: In the year of the centenary of the apparitions 6,000,000 pilgrims descended on Lourdes. Most notable among them was the Patriarch of Venice, His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Roncalli, who only a very short time later would become Pope John XXIII. Cardinal Roncalli had been sent by Pope Pius XII as Papal Legate to consecrate the crypt below the basilica of the Immaculate Conception and the underground church of Pope Pius X.

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