1st March : first miracle and 12th apparition
On Monday 1st March, when it was still dark, Catherine Latapie arrived at the Grotto, having come on foot from the neighbouring village of Loubajac. She dipped her paralysed arm into the spring water and she was immediately able to move it once again! She was in a hurry to leave; she was due to give birth to her fourth child that day. The healing of Catherine Latapie was the first miracle of Lourdes. Along the way, she ran into a little girl wearing a mantle, Bernadette, who was coming for her twelfth meeting with Aqueró (in Bigourdan dialect), as Bernadette called her. During this 12th apparition, the “young lady” told her three secrets with this advice: “I forbid you to tell this to anyone.”
2nd March : “Go and tell the priests …”
On Tuesday, 2nd March, the Apparition made a final request: “Go and tell the priests that people should come here in procession, and to build a chapel here.”
For believers, a chapel is a house for God. The place to celebrate Mass. The request had been heard. Today, during the pilgrimage season, two processions are held each day: the Blessed Sacrament procession in the afternoon, and the Marian torchlight procession in the evening. More than fifty masses are celebrated every day in different places in the Sanctuary.
25th March : the Apparition revealed her name
On 25th March 1858, on the feast of the Annunciation, during the 16th apparition, Bernadette asked the Lady her name three times: “Mademoiselle, would you be kind enough to tell me who you are?”
The Lady extended her hands and then re-joined them at chest height and, raising her eyes to heaven, with infinite sweetness she uttered these words, “Que soy era Immaculada Councepciou” (I am the Immaculate Conception).
Bernadette did not understand the meaning of these words. She had to repeat them all the way to the presbytery where she shouted them at the priest, Father Peyramale. Overwhelmed by emotion, he immediately sent her home. He was now sure of the Lady’s identity. Indeed, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been promulgated in 1854. It says that, unlike the rest of us, Mary was conceived without sin, and had never sinned. The Apparition was the Virgin Mary!
It was mid Lent when Bernadette told us of the call from Heaven sent by Mary to change our hearts, a call without intimidation, of extreme gentleness, but of great need. A real conversion, to find the path to the only true happiness.
Let us go as often as we can to drink at the spring, light a candle and pray before the rock of Massabielle, where these two young girls showed us the way to God.