«Que soy era Immaculada councepciou»

Lourdes is a picturesque French town located in southwestern France, at the foot of the Pyrenees, on the Gave de Pau River. In the 19th century, the town became the site of one of the most important Marian apparitions, which permanently marked its history. Thanks to the events of 1858, Lourdes became one of the main pilgrimage centers in the world. Currently, approximately 5 million pilgrims come here every year to ask Mary for healing of soul and body.

And how did it all start?

On February 11, 1858, at noon, fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous, from a poor family, went to the Massabielle Cave to collect wood with her sister and a friend. It was then that the girl had a vision for the first time. She saw a lady in a white dress with a blue sash and a yellow rose on each foot, with a rosary in her hand. As she later said, this heavenly figure was the sweetest, most beautiful person she had ever seen.

Between February 11 and July 16, 1858, the girl experienced eighteen apparitions, during which she became friends with the White Lady and became her confidant. At subsequent meetings, Bernadette was accompanied by hundreds, and then thousands, of Lourdes residents, who told her what to ask the "apparition". Much of what happened during these conversations is unknown: the conversations were mostly held in silence, and very few words were recorded from the meetings. Bernadette, however, as befits a confidante of the Virgin Mary, was reserved in sharing conversations about the apparitions.
On February 18, the White Lady uttered significant words: "I do not promise you happiness in this world, but in the next." Three days later she exhorted: "Pray for sinners," and after another three days she exhorted: "Repent! Repent! Repent!” She also asked the priests to build a chapel near the grotto and for the faithful to come there in procession.

On March 25, the White Lady introduced herself, saying: "Que soy era Immaculada councepciou", which in dialect means "I am the Immaculate Conception".
In Massabielle's cave, the White Lady showed Bernadette the place from which the spring flowed. Soon the first miracle happened: a resident of Lourdes dipped her paralyzed hand in the water flowing from the spring and was cured.

Bernadette's eighteen meetings with the White Lady ended on July 16. Just twelve days later, the local bishop appointed a commission to investigate the alleged apparitions of Our Lady. On January 18, 1862, on behalf of the Church, he ruled on their authenticity. In 1874, a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was placed at the site of the apparitions, and then a neo-Gothic basilica was built there.
In 1866, Bernadette entered the order of Sisters of Charity in Nevers and remained there until her death on April 16, 1879. In 1925, Pope Pius XI declared Bernadette blessed, and in 1933 he solemnly included her among the saints.

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in Bernadette's story is to follow the path through the most important places where she lived, from her birth in 1844 until her departure to Nevers in 1866: a visit to the family mill, Moulin de Boly, Cachot , in the hospice where she studied with the Sisters of Nevers and the place of her first communion. Visiting the parish church, which still houses the baptismal font used for her baptism, or the old rectory where she met Father Peyramale are must-sees.
This route is covered on foot. It is best to start a walk in the footsteps of Bernadette in the nearby sanctuary of the Sainte-Bernadette Museum, which presents the life of this unique resident of Lourdes through the objects belonging to her.
Sightseeing is possible individually or with a guide.

All the necessary information that will be useful when preparing for the expedition can be found on the website: https://www.lourdes-infotourisme.com/

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