Miracle in Lourdes
I sat by my mother, chatting over coffee that morning as so many others. I blessed this time with her, but I also worried.
For over twenty years, Mom had struggled with a sugar/adrenal condition that depleted her energy. This illness had begun with a first scary crisis. As a young teen, I remember her stretched across the bed, gray, ice cold to the touch, while a friend called an ambulance.
Fear frozen, I breathed a sigh of relief when she came back to us late that day, worn, exhausted but recovering. She and I now faced years of doctors’ visits that, eventually, taught her to manage her condition.
Sweet, yet iron-willed, Mom went about life, energy never plentiful, the dark circles around her eyes permanent. At times, there were minor and not-so-minor crises.
This day, at breakfast, as I inspected her face, I cringed at the sallow, mustardy tone of her skin, the usual for her. Cancer had been ruled out, but I so wished to see her rosy and vibrant.
And then, one year, we went to Lourdes as a family.
Lourdes. How to describe a place that exudes healing?
To begin, there is the quaint town, and the magnificent shrine erected over the grotto of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother to young Bernadette Soubirous. The whole ensemble is “encrusted” into fairy-like scenery of mountain-peeks, complete with an ancient castle. Lourdes is a feast for the pilgrim’s eyes.
Driving through the streets to the hotel, one senses something utterly different about this town. There is this non-frenzy, this non-rush, this peace.
And then you can’t wait to visit the grotto. The fact that Mary was here, exerts an irresistible magnetism. You drop your bags at the hotel room, and you walk, as everything is at walking distance.
And you are not disappointed. As you look at the large natural grotto, up on the rock face, at the life-size statue of the Virgin, you marvel that such a “niche” could only have been divinely fashioned, from the beginning of time, for exactly such a purpose.
And you sit and pray. And you watch as other pilgrims, many on wheel chairs gently pushed by volunteers, pray, and light candles. Somehow, you feel this place is “extra” close to Our Lady’s heart and ear. So you pray some more.
Underneath the grotto of the apparitions flows the miraculous fountain that Bernadette dug with her own hands, at the request of Our Lady. This fountain, now channeled, supplies thousands of gallons daily for both pilgrims to take home, or to wash in the bath houses.
The day after we arrived, Mom, a sister and I were standing in line to take one such dip. The men in the family were taking their baths in the men’s section.
Everything is done with the utmost privacy, propriety and care. What an experience! The water feels like “melted ice”, and with the help of charitable volunteers, one is fully immersed.
That night, as we gathered around our hotel table enjoying delicious French fare, we bubbled with natural and spiritual joy. Everybody talked of the days’ experiences, specially that “ice-cold bath!”
And then I saw it.
My mother, glowing pink like a freshly picked rose…a spark in her eyes, a lilt in her voice, a bounce in her attitude. And there and then I knew she had been healed.
And she was. She never lacked energy like she had before. She was given a new life. And that color, that sallow, sickly color–gone.
Ours is not an officially recognized miracle. Though beginning with the cure of Catherine Latapie in 1858, there are 7,000 claimed cures documented at Lourdes, only 69 cases are officially recognized.
The Catholic Church is stringent when it comes to declaring a healing officially miraculous and submits such a claim to the most rigorous medical examiners, and Church authorities.
Still, besides these recorded and officially approved cases, there are thousands upon thousands of personal claims to physical and emotional healings, as well as graces and favors granted, which though not formally “stamped” are, nonetheless, personally cherished and recorded.
I like to think ours is one of these. I know Mom was healed. She knows it. We all know it. And it’s enough for us.
By Andrea F. Phillips
DAILY QUOTE for January 21, 2021
SAINT OF THE DAY
One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.