11 February 2009

Notre Dame de Lourdes

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, celebrating the first appearance of the Blessed Virgin to St. Bernadette in 1858.

To you, our Champion Leader and Mother of Christ our God, do we, your children, sing a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for your appearance and miracles that you continue to send down on us as showers of Divine Grace at Lourdes. As through the waters of Baptism we were made new in Christ, so through the waters that gushed forth from the grotto of your appearance we are enlivened by the Grace of God, as we sing:

Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Life-giving Springs!

~First Kontakion from the Akathist to Our Lady of Lourdes by Dr. Alexander Roman.

St. Bernadette was disappointed with the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes when it was finished. It was taller and older than the apparition she saw. When Bernadette visited the shrine of Our Lady of Grace in northern France and saw the icon venerated there she exclaimed, "That is how Our Lady appeared to me! Exactly like that!"

So, the Mother of God at Lourdes resembled the Theotokos as depicted on Eastern icons. That explains why you will often see pilgrims to Lourdes carrying the Byzantine icon of Our Lady of Grace in procession.

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