Feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes
On this day we also remember and offer prayers for those who are
sick and suffering. The late Pope John Paul II declared that this
day should be also the World Day of the Sick. For this year we will
celebrate its 14th year.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France is the most
visited pilgrimage site in the world -- principally because of the
apparent healing properties of the waters of the spring that appeared
during the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to a poor and
sickly fourteen-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubiroux.
The first apparition occurred February 11, 1858. There were eighteen
in all; the last took place July 16, of the same year. The mysterious
vision Bernadette saw in the hollow of the rock Massabielle, where
she and friends had gone to gather firewood, was that of a young
and beautiful lady. "Lovelier than I have ever seen" said
the child. She described the Lady as clothed in white, with a blue
ribbon sash and a Rosary handing from her right arm. Now and then
the apparition spoke to Bernadette.
One day, the Lady told the girl to drink of a mysterious fountain
within the grotto itself, the existence of which was unknown, and
of which there was no sign. But Bernadette scratched at the ground,
and a spring immediately bubbled up and soon gushed forth. On another
occasion the apparition bade Bernadette go and tell the priests
she wished a chapel to be built on the spot and processions to be
made to the grotto. At first the clergy were incredulous. The priest
said he would not believe it unless the apparition gave Bernadette
her name. After another apparition, Bernadette reported that the
Lady told her, "I am the Immaculate Conception". Though
the girl was unfamiliar with the term, the Pope had declared the
doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary in 1854.
Four years after Bernadette's visions, in 1862, the bishop of the
diocese declared the faithful "justified in believing the reality
of the apparition" of Our Lady. A basilica was built upon the
rock of Massabielle by M. Peyramale, the parish priest. In 1873
the great "national" French pilgrimages were inaugurated.
Three years later the basilica was consecrated and the statue solemnly
crowned. In 1883 the foundation stone of another church was laid,
as the first was no longer large enough. It was built at the foot
of the basilica and was consecrated in 1901 and called the Church
of the Rosary.
A large church called a basilica was built where Bernadette saw
Our Lady. Although the apparitions took place over a hundred years
ago, miracles still happen there. Many people are cured of sicknesses.
Crippled people walk again. Blind people see again. Lonely, broken
people find hope again. There, where she once appeared to St. Bernadette,
Our Lady still shows her love for us.
The grotto is being visited by many pilgrims especially those who
are sick because it is believed that you will be healed. And many
other Miracles can happen after you visit the grotto.
Seven Founders of the Orders of Servites
Seven members of Florentine Confraternity founded the Order of Servites
of the blessed Virgin Mary. The Servites lead a life of prayer and
mortification, meditating constantly on the Passion of the Lord,
and venerating the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows.
This order was founded on the feast of the Assumption, 1233 when
the Blessed Virgin appeared to seven noble Florentines, who had
repaired to the church to follow the exercises of the Confraternity
of the Laudesi, and bade them leave the world and live for God alone.
Then on Good Friday, 13 April 1240, the hermits received a vision
of Our Lady. She held in her hand the black habit, and a nearby
angel bore a scroll reading Servants of Mary, Mary told them: “You
will found a new order, and you will be my witnesses throughout
the world. This is your name: Servants of Mary. This is your rule:
that of Saint Augustine. And here is your distinctive sign: the
black scapular, in memory of my sufferings.”
Soon after, when the seven were begging alms from door to door in
the streets of Florence, they suddenly heard children's voices calling
to them, "Servants of holy Mary." Among these children
was St. Philip Benizi, then just five months old. Hereafter they
were known by this name, first heard from the lips of children.
In the course of time they retired into solitude on Monte Senario
and gave themselves wholly to contemplation and penance.
The seven founders were:
1. Alexis Falconieri
2. Bartholomew degli Amidei
3. Benedict dell'Antella
4. Buonfiglio Monaldi
5. Gherardino Sostegni
6. Hugh dei Lippi-Uguccioni
7. John Buonagiunta Monetti
Bishop and Doctor of the Church
"Let us faithfully transmit to posterity the example of virtue
which we have received from our forefathers." -Saint Peter
Peter Damian was very good to the poor. It was the ordinary thing
for him to have a poor person or two with him at table and he liked
to minister personally to their needs.
St. Peter Damian was born in 1007, and was left an orphan as a
little child. He was taken in by an older brother who abused and
starved him. Another brother named Damian became aware of the boy's
real situation. He brought him to his own home. It was then that
Peter's life took on a whole new direction. He was treated with
love, affection and care. So grateful was he that when he became
a religious he took the name Damian after his loving brother. Damian
educated Peter and encouraged his studies. Peter eventually taught
at the university while he was in his twenties. He was thought of
as a great teacher. But the Lord was directing him in ways he could
never have thought of.
Peter lived in times when many in the Church were too influenced
by secular goals. Peter realized that the Church is divine and has
the grace from Jesus to save all people. He wanted the Church to
shine with the holiness of Jesus. After seven years of teaching,
he made the decision to become a monk. He wanted to live the rest
of his life in prayer and penance. He would pray and sacrifice so
that many people in the Church would become holy. He went to a monastery
of St. Romuald. Peter Damian wrote a rule for the monks. He also
wrote a life of their holy founder, Romuald. Peter wrote many works
of theology to help people deepen their faith. Twice his abbot sent
him to neighboring monasteries. He helped the monks begin reforms
that would encourage them to live closer to God. The monks were
grateful because Peter was so kind and respectful.
Peter was finally called from the monastery. He became a bishop
and a cardinal. He was sent on very important missions for various
popes throughout his long life.
Because he was a champion of truth and a peacemaker, he was declared
a Doctor of the Church in 1828.
Chair of St. Peter
Since early times, the Roman Church has had a special commemoration
of the primatial authority of St. Peter. As witness one of the most
renowned of the Apostolic Fathers, the Roman See has always held
a peculiar place in the affection and obedience of orthodox believers
because of its "presiding in love" and service over all
the Churches of God.
The feast of St. Peter's Chair at Rome reminds us that St. Peter
started the Christian community in that city. The special chair
is a symbol of the authority that was given to him by Jesus. Kings
of old sat on thrones and ruled. Peter's chair is
a symbol of his authority from Jesus to rule the Church.
St. Peter was martyred for the faith, but down through the ages
there has always been a bishop of Rome. He is the pope. The pope
rules the whole Church, as St. Peter did, in Jesus' name. We call
the successor of St. Peter the Holy Father.
St. Peter was the prince of the apostles and the first pope. Jesus
said to him, "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build
my church" (Matthew 16:18). After Jesus went back to heaven,
St. Peter preached the Gospel. He guided the small but growing Christian
community. At first, Peter labored in Jerusalem and in Antioch,
two big cities of the east. Later, he went to preach the Gospel
in Rome, the capital of the world.
The evils of pagan Rome would drown his voice no matter how dedicated
he may be. But the Holy Spirit was alive in Peter. He courageously
took up the ministry Jesus had left him. Never again would Peter
deny his Lord. Never again would Peter put his own personal well-being
before the good of the Church.