1862-2022: the 160th anniversary of the recognition of the Lourdes Apparitions

Published on 17 January 2022 - 10:01

On 18th January 1862, in the name of the Catholic Church, the Bishop of Tarbes, Mgr. Laurence, published his pastoral letter “passing judgment on the Apparition which took place at the Grotto of Lourdes”. Nearly 4 years after the apparitions of the Lady to Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto of Massabielle, this was the official recognition of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes.

We judge that the Immaculate Mary, Mother of God, really appeared lo Bernadette Soubirous on 11th February 1858 and following days, eighteen times in the Grotto of Massabielle, near the city of Lourdes; that this Apparition possesses all the characteristics of truth and that the faithful may believe in it with certainty.

Based on the work of the Commission of Inquiry which he set up in 1858 and which was “responsible for ascertaining the authenticity and the nature of the events which took place”, and taking into account Bernadette’s testimony of and the cures effected with water from Lourdes, the Bishop of Tarbes officially recognised the apparitions, authorised worship, and invited the building of a shrine by appealing to the generosity of donors.

It is from this seminal text, an extract of which is engraved in marble in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, that worship would be organised and pilgrimages would develop.

This year, to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the pastoral letter, a special reissue is in preparation. Available from around April 2022, for the opening of the pilgrimage season, at the Grotto Bookshop and the Sanctuary’s official e-bookstore.