The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France is the most visited shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the world with over a million pilgrims every year. The first apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes took place in Massabielle, a hollow with massive rocks and a grotto covered with clumps of bushes on February 11, 1858. Our Lady appeared to a fourteen years old girl called Bernadette. Our Lady visited her Eighteen times. Each of the apparition had a significant event attached to it. The first to eight apparitions were injunctions from our Lady to pray for sinners and do Penance.
The ninth apparition brought about the Miraculous Spring that flowed in the place till date. Pilgrims drank and bathed with the water and so many healings has been recorded. The thirteenth apparition came with a request from Our Lady to have a Chapel built in her honour and for people to come in processions bearing lighted Candles. The people of Lourdes with their Clergy asked Bernadette to inquire the identity of the Lady so when the Blessed Mary appeared the sixteenth time on March 25, 1858 on the feast of Annunciation, Bernadette asked for her identity and The Lady replied her in her native dialect “I am the Immaculate Conception”. Bernadette didn’t understand what she said but she relayed it to her people who were as confused as she was.
Our Lady’s affirmation as the Immaculate Conception was a miracle and answer from heaven to strengthen the people’s faith. In 1854, four years ago, Pope Pius IX had declared the doctrine of Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary to be “an article of faith” to be believed by all Catholics. But the doctrine was not understood by the people and was not even spread not discussed among the people who lived near Bernadette village.
The seventeenth apparition came with Bernadette experiencing an estacy and performing a miracle with a lighted candle. She moved her palm over the in Nevers, France.