Lourdes – Where Miracles Happen

The story of Lourdes in music, prayer and reflection
Music presented by Dublin Lourdes Choir,
Dublin Diocesan Music Group
Soloists – Mihaela Loredana-Chirvase, Rodrigue Marino Nguekam, Sharon Lyons, Mary Flynn and Paul Kenny
Organist – David Grealy, Harpist – Denise Kelly
Director – Pat ODonoghue
Available from Veritas Shops and Pro-Cathedral, Marlborough Street Shop – €15

Music List:

Traditional Instrumental

The Bells of the Angelus (Lesbordes)
Ave Maria (Jacob Arcadelt)
Lead Us To The Water (Tom Kendzia)
Ave Maria (Guilio Caccini)
Sanctus (Jean-Paul Lécot)

As I Kneel Before You (Maria Parkinson)
Agnus Dei (Jean-Paul Lécot)
Ave Verum (Camille Saint-Saens)
Sing of a Lady (Liam Lawton)

Holy Mary Full of Grace (Paul Décha)
Christe Lux Mundi (Taizé)
Kyrie (Jean-Paul Lécot)
Keep Watch With Me (Margaret Rizza)
Bogoroditse Dievo (Taizé)
Gloria (Jean-Paul Lécot)

Story and Reflections read by Margaret Ó Dalaigh,
Paul Thornton and Pat ODonoghue


On eighteen occasions, between 11th February and 16th July 1858, Our Blessed Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, then aged fourteen years, at Massabielle near Lourdes, in the shelter of the Pyrenees. Our Lady came with the call to pray for sinners, to do penance, ‘to go drink at the fountain and wash’. She asked Bernadette to go and tell the priests that people must come there in procession and that a chapel be built there. As we mark the 150th anniversary of these Apparitions in Lourdes, we reflect on the many blessings that have poured from that holy place into the hearts and lives of millions throughout the world. Take time out to rest in the shade of the rock of Massabielle as we pray, sing and tell the story of that miraculous place that we call Lourdes.

Massabielle and the First Apparition

On the morning of the first apparition, 11th February 1858, Bernadette left her family home to collect firewood at Massabielle, which was a grazing area for pigs and a dump. It was a drizzly damp morning, and it was only after pleading with her mother that Bernadette was allowed to accompany her sister Toinette and her friend, Jean Abadie. Due to her asthma, her mother fastened a patched woolen bonnet on Bernadette

On reaching rocky Massabielle, Toinette and Jeanne Abadie teased Bernadette, who was finding it difficult to cross the little stream. Bernadette says: ‘I came back opposite the Grotto and began to take off my shoes and stockings, I had just removed the first stocking, when I heard a noise something like a gust of wind. A wonderful beautiful girl dressed in white appeared’. The beautiful lady opened her hands in a welcoming gesture that seemed to invite Bernadette to come closer. Bernadette put her hand in her pocket for her rosary. The vision made the Sign of the Cross. ‘I knelt down’ said Bernadette ‘and said the Rosary in the presence of the beautiful lady’. When Toinnette and Jeanne returned they found Bernadette kneeling, totally immobilized and so captivated by what she seemed to see that they had great difficulty in waking her from her contemplation.

The Apparitions and the Spring

The Lady continued to appear to Bernadette at the Grotto of Massabielle. Sometimes the ‘Apparition’, or ‘Aquero’ as Bernadette referred to in her native dialect, appeared in the lower section of the Grotto, close to the present day tabernacle, and beckoned to Bernadette to come inside. On Thursday 25th February Bernadette behaved very strangely. She scraped the muddy ground with her hands, and tried to drink and wash. People thought that she had gone insane. However the Lady had said, “Go and drink at the spring and wash in it.” By the next day there was a steady flow of water.

The Baths at Lourdes

Each year 400,000 pilgrims are immersed in the water of the Baths at Lourdes – a response to the call of the Blessed Virgin on 25th February 1858. From the trickle of that day a spring of faith in the power of the water of Lourdes has spread through all the continents. Many who are ill come to be helped into the water hoping for a miracle. No one is disappointed though the healing that results may not be what is expected. Homes and cars are blessed with it and many keep a supply for use on a variety of occasions when God’s help is invoked through the intercession of Mary.

A new development in Lourdes is the Water Walk. This spiritual journey is marked by nine ‘wells’ situated on the right bank of the River Gave opposite the Grotto. Each ‘well’ is named after a city from the Bible. Thanks to a canal system the water comes from the same spring that flows under the Massabielle Grotto. The advantage is that the nine wells are accessible to anyone, whatever their situation or difficulty. They are open throughout the day and are lit in the evening. A meditation from scripture is offered at each ‘well’ from which we are invited to taste and be refreshed.
Build A Chapel There

On Saturday 27th February the Lady said “Go tell the priests to build a chapel here.” Persistence in the face of disbelief and doubt eventually won out and Lourdes now is blessed with many beautiful Basilicas and Churches. They are all needed to provide for the spiritual needs of the millions of pilgrims who gather for the celebration of the Eucharist in particular when earth joins with heaven in praising the glory of God.
Reflection Furnished and Ready by Monsignor John Maloney
The Blessed Sacrament Procession

Each afternoon from April to October at 5pm the Blessed Sacrament Procession is held at Lourdes. The sick and pilgrims with a disability will lead the procession, with the Blessed Sacrament being carried at the end, surrounded by a representative from each group of sick pilgrims.

Since the Middle Ages, processions and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament have been forms of veneration of the Body of Christ. It is also one of the oldest traditions of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. Over time the Blessing of the Sick has been added to this ceremony. For Christians the Eucharist is the centre of our faith. When we take part in the procession we are professing our faith in the reality of Christ’s presence among us. To walk in the procession is to acknowledge our need of the Bread of Life, to thank Jesus for the gift of his very self, and to pray for all in our world starved of the food from heaven. It is a time of listening to God’s word, a time of adoration, a time of prayer and a time of blessing.

The Torchlight Procession

Each evening from April to October the Torchlight Marian Procession takes place at 9.00pm, as it has done since 1872. By taking part in the processions pilgrims are remaining faithful to the invitation of Our Lady to Bernadette on Tuesday 2nd March 1858, the day of the 13th Apparition; “Let people come here in Procession and have a Chapel built here”. Between torches, pilgrims carry a statue of Our Lady. It is Mary, Mother of the Church, whom pilgrims come to venerate.

Everyone is invited to carry a lighted candle in their hand, a symbol of our baptismal calling, reminding us of the words of Jesus: “You are the light of the world”. (Matt 5:14). Carrying a candle also recalls the 17th Apparition when Bernadette herself carried a candle. It is the custom of carrying candles that gives the procession its name. The procession becomes a blaze of light snaking its way along the route towards the Rosary Square. The effect is heightened by the custom of raising the candles in the air at certain points of the ceremony. During the procession five decades of the Rosary are recited. Often the Our Father is said in Latin, the ten Hail Mary’s are said in as many different languages

By taking part in this procession we give honour to Mary with our songs and prayers, and we recall our baptismal commitment to keep the Light of Christ burning brightly in our lives. By so doing, we give praise to the God who has called us out of darkness into his glorious light.

Call to Penance

The call to pray for reconciliation is central to the message of Lourdes. The Confessional Chapels offer the facility in many languages for pilgrims to be reconciled through the Sacrament of Penance. A visit to Lourdes has so often afforded people the opportunity to let go of a burden that had been weighing on their conscience for a long time. Young people, moved by the spirit of pilgrimage, speak of the power of the healing grace they receive in Confession sometimes in an informal way. All of these graced moments come from the ? apparition

Reflection Reconciliation (Meister Eckhart)

True repentance is approaching God in love and squarely facing up to what you have done. Choose your own way of doing this, and discover that the more you do it, the more real your repentance will become. True conversion is like our Lord’s passion. The more you imitate it the more your sins will fall away.

Reflection Sacrament of the Sick. St James

‘If one of you is ill, he should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him.’ These words from the Letter of St. James are central to our understanding of the sacrament of the sick. This sacrament is often incorporated into the programme of the pilgrimage. It is a very moving experience for all as the sick are once again placed at the centre of the prayer life of the group. We keep watch with them and support them with our prayers.

The Cross
Saint Bernadette knew the weight of the cross in her short life. Rejection of the message of Our Lady from the outset and crippling illness meant that she would carry the cross of suffering at the very heart of her being.

There are three opportunities to follow the Way of the Cross in Lourdes. The High Stations are arduous yet they provide graphic life size depictions of the road to Calvary. The Low Stations by the river offer the facility of travelling the Way for those who are less able. For the Jubilee Year 2008 a new set of Stations was commissioned and is now in place. The Irish Church contributed the 9th Station – Jesus Falls the Third Time – to this imaginative and creative project.

May Mary who stayed by the side of her suffering Son be with all who are ill and close to death. May the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes comfort and console them at the hour of their death.

Those who gather at the grotto, especially late of night speak of the extraordinary peace of that place. May the peace of Christ fill our hearts so that we in turn may become instruments of peace and reconciliation in our homes, communities and places of work. May Mary, the Queen of Peace shine her light of gentle peace on all of us. Just as the angels celebrated in song the birth of Jesus may we always celebrate with joy the gift of Lourdes – a place of peace, healing and reconciliation.