Monday, February 11, 2008
Our Lady and Bernadette
One hundred and fifty years ago to-day, began the apparitions of Our Lady to a slight, sickly and impoverished girl in an obscure mountain village in France. Our seer was Bernadette Soubirous .
Our little saint spoke to others, many were sceptical. The local priest was, at first that way disposed, he wanted Bernadette to get the name of Aquerò. Eventually her Lady identified herself by, “Qué soï l'immaculé councepcioũ”. Four years previously this was declared dogma.*
Lourdes is the byword of miracles to-day. And the events and study of the events have became the template and standard model for other such events. Bernadette would later enter the religious life. Her body is incorrupt. She is marked amongst those who reside in God's company, which means: she is officially recognised as a saint. The world knows of her, because of the miraculous stories of her youth. The Church does not count, officially, any wonders done or associated with the living as basis for confirmed sanctity. Her later life, lived with significant heroic vitue and humility, was her cause for canonisation.
But the romance of the wonders is what draws us to her story. Private revelations are not incumbent on the christian to believe. Franz Werfel escaping nazism discovered Bernadette's story. Werfel was a jew, and he wrote the novel The Song of Bernadette, which became a hollywood prise winning movie (when the powers that be in Hollywood were friendly towards catholicism). It is proverbial, to mention Lourdes in commenting about the cure of illness. It has become part of our, christian or not, western consciousness.
In Cleveland, there is a beautiful church dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. Its outside walls are heavily blackened with steel mill and factory smoke of generations past. The neighborhood is far from the vibrant catholic czech community it had been, the parish may not survive the axe of a cold blooded bishop hell-bent on consolidation.
This evening, a few dozen people, on a cold night, gathered for a lovely mass in celebration of the Patroness's feast day. I am an advocate of the celebration of such days. We are church of communion, communion of all three branches of the church: militant, suffering and triumphant. We, the living souls, the angels and the souls that have left this world gather together in the adoration of Jesus, Our God and Brother. Our Saints in heaven are our friends and advocates, and when we bring them to mind, they bring us to mind.
*On the last feast day of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict announced indulgences for pilgrimages to Lourdes in this year of jubilee.
noto bene humoroso: Soubirous is pronounced similarly as the japanese automobile