January 7 ~  God Enters Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age

"God enters by a private door into every individual." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

St.Bernadette Soubirous

The relationship with faith is a private holiness...

For the frail peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879), faith entered her life with the miraculous visions of the Blessed Mother Mary in a grotto called Massabielle near the Gave River in southern France.

Born on this day in the small town of Lourdes, France, St. Bernadette said the Blessed Virgin chose her "because I was very poor and uneducated."

Mary first appeared in 1858, a vision of blue and white, as Bernadette, 14, gathered wood with two others. Appearing 17 more times, Mary told Bernadette to pray for sinners, build a church, and do penance.

As writer Emily Brontė once observed, "I see heaven's glories shine and faith shines equal."

On one visit, Mary showed Bernadette where to dig to find the famous spring. The spring's holy energy, the Lourdes wellspring, became a healing mecca for the world.

"It's faith and prayer which save," Bernadette said.

Patroness of the sick and poor, she was canonized in 1933. Each year, millions visit the shrine which has become a place of spiritual and physical renewal for pilgrims of faith... A "private door" to those who believe...

"As for me," poet Walt Whitman once said. "I know of nothing else but miracles."

"Teach us to pray for all people."