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Our Lady of Lourdes

On 11 February 1858, Lourdes was enveloped in thick, damp fog. Bernadette and one of her sisters, Antoinette, and their young friend Jeanne Abadie set out for nearby Massabielle ("the old rock") to collect firewood for their home.

Let Bernadette describe this in her own words - "I saw a Lady dressed in white. She wore a white dress and a white veil with a blue waist-band and a yellow rose on each of her feet. Her Rosary was yellow, too..."

The Lady took the Rosary from her arm and made the sign of the Cross. I wanted and managed to do likewise. I got down on my knees and began to recite the Rosary with the beautiful Lady. The apparition moved the Rosary beads between her fingers without moving her lips. When it was over she made a sign for me to come near, but I didn't dare to..."

Massabielle, the old rock, is in fact a large rock some 27 metres high, just on the edge of the river Gave. It was surrounded by trees and covered with bushes and Ivy. It has three irregular openings, one facing the river is some five metres wide and six metres high, and up on the right hand side is a natural oval-shaped niche. It was in this niche that Our Lady appeared.

For many centuries the whole Church had believed that Mary was Immaculate from the moment of her conception in her mother's womb. In 1854, Pope Pius IX formally defined this as an article of Faith, to be believed by all Catholics.

Can you imagine the emotion he would have felt, when just four years later, Mary herself confirmed this fact when she identified herself to Bernadette with these words - "Je suis Immaculada Councepcion" ("I am the Immaculate Conception")

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