Lourdes is situated in a picturesque location at the foot of the Pyrenees, Tarbes-Lourdes call from the time of St. Pius X. In 1858 it was inhabited by only 4,000 people. Near the town is the Cave of Massabielle, a lonely place and infamous. A girl of 14 years very good, but sick and lacking in any culture, named Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879) was blessed in 1858 by eighteen apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

First appearance

(11 February)

With three younger sisters and other girls, the little seer was busy collecting firewood on the banks of the Gave River, came near the Grotto of Massabielle, Bernadette describes the encounter: "all of a I felt a sudden loud noise like a clap of thunder. I looked right, left and trees on the shore, but nothing was moving, I thought that I cheated, but I heard a new sound like the first, Oh! Then I was afraid and I stood up. I did not know what to think, when turning his head toward the cave; I saw one of the openings in the rock just a wild rose acted as if there was a strong wind. Almost at the same time a cloud came from inside the cave gold and soon after, a beautiful young lady, as I had never seen, dressed in white with a blue band that ran down the dress, had about a foot pink gold that shone on his arm and wore a white rosary beads from, connected by a chain of gold shining like the two roses at the foot. The Lady was to be located at the entrance of the bullet above the wild rose. Now he looked at me, smiled, and waved me forward, as if she were my mom. The fear I had passed, but I felt I no longer know where I was. I rubbed my eyes, but the Lady was still there who kept smiling at me and made me realize that I'm not mistaken. Without realizing what I was doing, took the rosary from his pocket and sat on his knees. Mrs. approved with a nod and took her fingers holding the rosary beads on his right arm. When I wanted to start praying the Rosary and put his hand to his forehead, my arm remained paralyzed, and only after it was marked the Lady, even I could do like you Mrs. left me alone to pray, meant to pass between the finger the beads of the crown, but did not speak, only at the end of every ten said to me: Gloria Patri, et Son, et Holy Spirit. After the rosary the Lady returned to the rock and the golden cloud disappeared with her".

Second appearance

(14 February, Sunday)

After lunch, the children had told the mother of the article and wanted to persuade her to go with them to the cave. Bernadette wanted to try it with holy water, to ensure that the appearance was the work of God and the devil. In fact he went there with her sisters and some friends and brought a bottle with half a liter of holy water. Kneeling at the spot where the apparition took place, as Bernadette said, "get there, each took his rosary and we sat on her knees to recite it. I had just played the first dozen that I saw the same lady. Then I threw the holy water, saying: if you come from God, I beg you to stay and get close, if not go away immediately. Mrs. approached becoming increasingly present, especially hearing the name of God and the effect of holy water. When I finished reciting my rosary, he disappeared".
No other than the seer saw the Madonna.

Third appearance

(18 February)

In the morning, Bernadette, accompanied by Mrs. Joan Mary Milet and Ms. Antoinette Peyret, entered the cave and together they recited the rosary. When the Rosary was finished, Antoinette Peyret told Bernadette to ask the Lord if he had something to communicate and put it in writing. When the Lady appeared, Bernadette says she replied: "What I have to tell you do not need to put it in writing - then I said - do me the pleasure to come here again for a fortnight? And yet I will not promise to make you happy in this world, but in ... "Bernadette promised to return with the permission of the mother. On the evening of this day the quartermaster of Cell, commander of the brigade of Lourdes, informed of his superior Lieutenant Bourriot, stationed in Argelès.

Fourth appearance

(19 February)

At dawn, at about 6:30 am about a dozen people came to the cave with Bernadette. The Blessed Virgin appeared, and was satisfied that Bernadette had returned, keeping his promise and said that following the revelations would have done. In this appearance appears the demon that screams "Get away! .. Go away".

Fifth appearance

(20 February)

The morning of the fifth apparition Bernadette, accompanied by her mother, arrived in Massabielle to half past six and the appearance lasts about forty minutes, and has as its object a prayer taught "word for word" from the Virgin to Bernadette . Around two o'clock the commander of the gendarmerie to leave Renault and reaches Tabes Lourdes to make an inquiry into the extraordinary things that happen to the cave.

Sixth appearance

(21 February)

Just arrived at the Grotto, Bernadette knelt and took the crown from his pocket and began to pray to the Holy Virgin appeared to her: "Madame, pulling me from his gaze for a moment, directed him on top of my head, and having asked what the sadden me hard again and said: "Pray for sinners!" Soon I was reassured by the expression serene and good that I saw on the face and then vanished. "In evening of February 21 the Chief of Police intervened that Jacomet Bernadette subjected to an interrogation. Finally, his father forbade her to continue to go in the cave. On 22 February, the seer was taken from the popular fervor in the cave, where he knelt to pray the rosary and cried, there was no apparition. The father took the ban to his daughter with great disapproval of the Commissioner.

Seventh appearance

(23 February)

Bernadette arrived at dawn, accompanied by her mother and aunts and Bernarda Basilia. One hundred people were already there including Dr. Dozous, orderly military Lafitte. Our Lady indicated to Bernadette three secrets that affect only you, do not tell anyone. For this is now called the appearance of the secrets. The Lady, who had not yet declared his name said to Bernadette: "Now my daughter, go and tell the priests that I want to be a chapel erected in this place." Bernadette tried to report the curate Peyramale the wish of the Lady, but the priest would not believe it and instructed the girl to ask the name of this lady. In a second step the priest, in order to believe in the vision, asked that the rose garden next to the cave would have to flourish, and this would be a sign that the appearances were not the result of an illusion.

Eighth appearance

(24 February)

The girl came close to the rose garden, he saw the Lady and the reported conditions of the priest. She did not answer, but with a very serious voice, he expressed the wish that Bernadette pray for sinners. Then the Lady to Bernadette gave her message of repentance and prayer: "Penance! Penance! Penance! Pray to God for the conversion of sinners! Kiss the ground as a sign of penance for sinners. "The wild rose bloomed yet people do not or were not disappointed, indeed were many people who believed in the apparitions. The number of people present at this apparition was about five as the written declaration on the relation of the marshal of Cell addressed to his superior.

Ninth appearance

(25 February)

After a moment of prayer rose to head Bernadette at the Grotto, in passing moved the branches of the wild rose and went to kiss the ground under the rock, over the bush. Then descended the slope, and being picked up in itself, came back in ecstasy. After three decades of the Rosary, Bernadette got up, showed uncertain, wavering all turned to the Gave, and made two or three steps forward. Suddenly he stopped abruptly and looked back as those who feel the call and heard words that seemed to come from the side of the rock. He made a sign so, went back on the road no more to the Gave, but towards the cave on the left side. Three quarters of the slope he stopped and turned everything around a look of bewilderment. He raised his head as if to ask the lady, then resolutely bent down and began to dig the earth. The small hole he had just dug, filled with water, after waiting a moment, drank and bathed his face, then took a little 'grass and brought it to his mouth. Later Bernadette said: "While I was praying, the Lord said, his voice friendly but serious at the same time:" Go drink and wash at the source." Since I did not know where it was thought that this source and since there were not any other, I headed towards the Gave. The lady called me and made me sign with his finger to bring the Grotto on the left, I obeyed, but I saw no water. Not knowing where to fetch it, I dug the earth and it is coming. Schiarisse I left you a little ', then I drank and then I wash".

After the miraculous discovery of new sources, many flocked to the cave is very wet in some clothes that water. The source, not covered by scholars from the first day had a revenue of 120,000 liters every twenty-four hours and did not ever bothered. On February 26 was the first healing miracle: the stonemason Bouriette was recovered from an eye disease by bathing at source. In a sign of gratitude all stonecutters opened spontaneously with their hands, hoes and picks a path among the rocks, most convenient way to get to the Grotto.

Tenth appearance

(26 February)

Against all odds, long before dawn, in Massabielle there was an influx of people than the previous day. Bernadette knelt and after the recitation of the Rosary greeted the lady who invited her to do penance and pray for sinners. Then he said: "Kiss the ground for repentance of sinners." In the evening of that day, the seer was subjected to rigorous questioning by the prosecutor and other Imperial Inquisitors. The questioning had no result: the girl said she would come back the next day at the Grotto.

Eleventh appearance

(27 February)

Since the three in the morning on roads leading to the Grotto of Massabielle, many soldiers, sent by the prosecutor, were present at the apparition, and remained deeply impressed: Our Lady invited again to pray for sinners, repeating the words and gestures of February 24. Shortly after Bernadette went to pray in church.

Twelfth appearance

(28 February)

Bernadette enter into ecstasy, says a few dozen of the Rosary. Suddenly you realize that she wants to move forward on his knees, but so dense crowd would prevent that. Two soldiers of the garrison to open a passage, Bernadette runs eight feet, then down again, kissed the ground repeatedly, smearing her lips and hands. These have the distinct impression that face all of this as a sign of penance for sinners.

Thirteenth appearance

(1 March)

For the first time accompanied by his daughter Francis Soubirous in the Grotto "for malevolent people could sneak through the crowd".

Fourteenth appearance

(2 March)

When Bernadette came in the Grotto were already about 1,300 people as illustrated by a report of the Commissioner of Police Jacomet. Ecstasy leaves everyone puzzled by its brevity. The words uttered by the Virgin are: "Go tell the priests to build a chapel here and would like to come here in procession.

Fifteenth appearance

(4 March)

On that day almost twenty thousand people flocked to the cave. Bernadette was ecstatic with his eyes fixed on something or someone then ate more grass. The apparition was gone quiet ... Bernadette first smiled, then she was sad, made the sign of the cross, put out the candle and resumed the journey home.
The evening of that day, a child of twelve who had been wet with water in the source was miraculously cured: it was Jean who died Bouhorts then 79 years. This day Bernadette said: "I was sad when she was sad, and I smiled when I smiled, told me often that we must pray for the conversion of sinners, then I became sad".

Sixteenth appearance

(25 March - Feast of the Annunciation)

Bernadette arrived at the Grotto in the early morning, he found the Lady already waiting, surrounded by a glow of heavenly light standing above the rose garden. There were so many people. The girl began to recite the rosary as usual. The seer asked the Madonna which was his real name, he had no answer, only the fourth request, the lady, taking a look solemn and humble at the same time, clasped hands, took on the chest, looked at the sky , then reopened and held out to Bernadette, finally said with a trembling voice: "I am the Immaculate Conception." The visionary, not understanding the meaning of this term, he wanted to ask if it was not even the Mother of God, but Madonna had already disappeared. This apparition lasted about an hour. This sentence was incomprehensible to Bernadette, in spite of this it repeated it to people who said in an uproar of joy. The girl ran to report to the parish priest Fr Peyramale, repeating the words spoken on the road from Madonna. When the seer came to the pastor he asked: "The Lady is perhaps the most Blessed Virgin?" And Bernadette replied, "No, I do not think so! It is the Immaculate Conception. "As soon as she heard the pastor say that title devotional because he was convinced the apparition Bernadette could never know the name. An educated lady explained what it meant to the seer that name, then Bernadette was certain that the "Lady" was the Madonna.

Seventeenth appearance

(7 April)

It was five o'clock in the morning, Bernadette was already on his knees and prayed the holy rosary in his right hand and his crown had left a lighted candle. Entry into contemplation withdrew his hand when the candle, consummates, continued to burn on his hands. Dr. Dozous, who was with her, noticed this phenomenon, which lasted about fifteen minutes. The seer saw the apparition, then, still kneeling in ecstasy, walked inside the cave, then move your hands off each other and thereby stop the action of the flame inside of his left hand . The ecstasy lasted about three quarters of an hour, the flame inside of his left hand quarter of an hour. A medical examination it was noticed that the skin of the hand did not suffer any alteration, and Bernadette, in a state of normalcy, he was sensitive to the heat of the flame. After this resounding miracle the police had closed the cave with wooden barriers, the water was declared normal healing water and Bernadette was declared insane.

Eighteenth appearance

(16 July)

It was the feast of Our Lady of Mount Caramel loved: Bernadette went to church very early and took communion. In the evening he went to church again, when he felt called and urged to go back to the Cave of Wonders. So he did. He went so far as was possible to get and knelt on the bank of the Gave River, close to the barriers that impeded the entrance to the cave. In that position he began to pray, he suddenly saw the Virgin Mary, beyond the barriers that closed the cave: and more beautiful than ever, and smiled, quietly disappeared soon after as it had appeared. In all these apparitions the messages were long and often the meetings were completely silent.

After these miraculous events, 28 July, the Bishop of Tarbes, Bishop Severo Bertrand Laurence, Church formed a committee to investigate the events of Lourdes and announced this in a long pastoral letter addressed to the clergy and faithful of the diocese. The investigation lasted four years and the rectory was very thorough. All the investigators presented to the bishop the unanimous opinion on the authenticity of the apparitions. The bishop, wrote in Article 1 of the declaration of authenticity: "We judge that the Immaculate Mother of God is really appeared to Bernadette Soubirous on February 11, 1858 and for eighteen times, the Grotto of Massabielle near the town of Lourdes, we judge that this apparition has all the characters and the truth can be rest assured that by the faithful..."
At the end of September 1858, the son of Emperor Napoleon III became seriously ill, the court lady gave him to eat the grass of the cave and soon recovered. Then the Emperor immediately gave the order to reopen the miraculous place.
In 1866, Bernadette entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity and Religious Education where he remained thirteen years between the misunderstandings of his superiors, the suffering and humiliation. In 1876 the convent of Nevers had written a letter to Pius IX, brought to Rome by the Bishop of Nevers, where among other things said: It seems to me from Heaven, the Blessed Virgin often has to look at you in a motherly way, because You, Holy Father, you have proclaimed the Immaculate. I like to think that you are loved by this good Mother, who four years ago, came in person to say: "I am the Immaculate Conception".

Bernadette died in this world April 16, 1879. Her body has remained incorrupt to this day. She was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1933. Lourdes became the main place of pilgrimage in Europe. The way and style of the celebrations created a model for other sanctuaries. The first church was built in Gothic style in 1864 on the spur of rock above the cave. In 1889 he was consecrated the second, called the Basilica of the Rosary, in Romanesque-Byzantine style. In it the main altar, the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and it overcomes the great organ, were built with the support of Catholics around the world as offering repair to Our Lady of Lourdes in response to the book written by the novelist Emile Zola, unworthy of a book lies, slander and insults. Was built in 1958 yet a third huge concrete church that can accommodate more than twenty thousand people, the Basilica of Pius XI consecrated by Cardinal Roncalli. The resort of Lourdes absorbs an estimated two million pilgrims a year. On the anniversary of the first centenary, there are about six million pilgrims. It was announced more than five thousand miraculous cures of which 58 accepted (until 1960).

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