Poor Bernadette...on her feast day (February 17)

Submitted by munir on Sun, 02/18/2024 - 13:53

A few days ago, this painting stopped me at the monastery of the priests located at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in southwestern France. It represents the reality that occurred in one of the Marian apparitions. Bernadette, a 14-year-old girl, attracts people of all walks of life and backgrounds to go to Massabielle Grotto. Some of them come with passion of faith to the grotto and meditate the beauty that the little girl talks about. Others come out of ordinary, and careless curiosity. Among them represent official civil, political and religious authorities who reject the principle of the Virgin Mary being visited by a young, poor girl who “fails in her lessons.” Therefore, in the center of the picture appear the suits and ties that Bernadette gathered, along with the poor people in one place, something that was rare.


Rector of Our Lady of Lourdes Sanctuary Fr. Michel Daubanes invited me to lunch in a room adjacent to this painting. The house is simple and lunch was served with joy and love, but it is not exaggerated. Simplicity is beautiful when associated with perfection and love. At the time, I commented on the power outage at Lourdes on the eve of the feast, which is also a rare occurrence, and I thought that Blessed Mary wanted us to live moments similar to those that Bernadette lived 166 years ago, when the light of faith outshined any other light.


The small Massabielle Grotto has become a magnet that attracts people from all over the world. I asked Fr. Michel during lunch about the number of pilgrims who visited Lourdes last year. He said, ‘We crossed the border of three million people’ which indicates that the world has been “healed” from the Corona disease, and marked the return of the status quo of tourism. Perhaps we can return in memory to the images that were posted from Lourdes, to see Blessed Mary and Bernadette alone, with neither guests, visitors, nor pilgrims.


In the East, we focus on numbers, but in that place, Fr. Michel says, “if one pilgrim comes and gets the spiritual benefit, it is then enough to consider the sanctuary a success with one pilgrim.


I also met the Italian doctor Alessandro who has been working here for more than two decades. He is the only doctor “in the world” who does not deal with the sick, but rather with the healthy because he supervises the conditions of those who receive the blessing of healing, in a site blessed by the global presence of Blessed Mary. She became rightfully referred to as “the healer of the sick,” and for this reason the Church associated the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes with the Day of Prayer for the Sick 32 years ago, namely February 11 every year.


It is therefore simplicity, which combines with the glory or greatness in this place characterized by a strange mixture whose charm cannot be discovered except with a humble heart. Therefore, I always think of Pope Benedict, who chose the date for the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes in 2013 to declare “the greatness of humility” by relinquishing the command of the ship of St. Peter, at a time when he came to Peter’s balcony in the Vatican on April 19, 2005, and said I am “a humble worker in the field of the Lord”… this was revealed when he stepped down on the great feast of simplicity.


I meditated this picture for long. It is beautiful and it touches the hearts, as it expresses the reality of the situation in February 1858 when Virgin Mary shed her light before any electricity came into being. And there, in this February, I prayed for all the people in need of this light... and I prayed for the people of Gaza and its believers who are still locked in the church where they pray the Holy Rosary daily in front of two statues of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Luján in Argentina... and the Mother of God, Who looks like Our Lady of the Mount in Anjara. How beautiful she is when She illuminates the church when power is cut off daily, and not for a few hours as was the case in France on the eve of the Feast of the Apparitions.


O Our beautiful Virgin Mary, Who visited Gaza while fleeing with your Son and fiancé towards Egypt... and Who visited Lourdes 166 years ago... enlighten the unjust hearts with the light of justice, and enlighten the hearts of the oppressed with the light of faith, and enlighten the hearts of the fearful ones with the light of relying on the merciful Lord’s help. As for you, Sister Bernadette, who represents the poor people of God but rich in faith, and whose feast the Church celebrates today, that is, a week after the “Beautiful Lady” apparitions of yours, pray for us.

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Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader