First Apparition Of Our Lady Of Lourdes
Thursday 11 February 1858
At half past twelve on a
cold February day, Mary, the Mother of God, descended from Heaven who met our
little shepherdess in a lonely grotto. The meeting was entirely unexpected. Who
could possibly describe the following scene better than Bernadette herself?
"The Thursday before Ash Wednesday it was cold and the weather was threatening.
After our dinner, our mother told us there was no more wood in the house and she
was vexed. My sister Toinette and I, to please her, offered to go and pick up
dry branches at the riverside. My mother said no, because the weather was bad
and we might be in danger of falling into the Gave. Jeanne Abadie, our neighbour
and friend, who was looking after her little brother in our house and who wanted
to come with us, took her brother back to his house and returned the next moment
telling us that she had leave to come with us. My mother still hesitated, but
seeing that there were three of us, she let us go. We took first of all the road
which leads to the cemetary, by the side of which wood shavings can sometimes be
found. That day we found nothing there. We came down by the side which leads
near the Gave and having arrived at the Pont Vieux we wondered if it would be
best to go up or down the river. We decided to go down and taking the forest
road we arrived at Merlasse. Then we went into Monsieur de la Fittes field, by
the mill of Savy.
"As soon as we had reached the end of this field, nearly opposite the grotto of
Massabieille, we were stopped by the canal of the mill we had just passed. The
current of this canal was not strong for the mill was not working, but the water
was cold and I for my part was afraid to go in. Jeanne Abadie and my sister,
less timid than I, took their sabots in their hands and crossed the stream.
However, when they were on the other side they called out that it was cold and
bent down to rub their feet and warm them. All this increased my fear and I
thought that if I went into the water I should get an attack of asthma. So I
asked Jeanne, who was bigger and stronger than I, to take me on her shoulders.
'I should think not!' she answered - 'If you won't come, stay where you are!'.
"After the others had picked up some pieces of wood under the grotto, they
disappeared along the Gave. When I was alone, I threw some stones into the water
to give me a foothold, but it was no use. So I had to make up my mind to take
off my sabots and cross the canal as Jeanne and my sister had done.
"I had just begun to take off my first stocking when suddenly I heard a great
noise like the sound of a storm. I looked to the right and to the left, under
the trees of the river, but nothing moved; I thought I was mistaken. I went on
taking off my shoes and stockings, when I heard a fresh noise like the first.
Then I was frightened and stood straight up. I lost all power of speech and
thought when, turning my head toward the grotto, I saw at one of the openings of
the rock a bush - only one - moving as if it were very windy. Almost at the same
time, there came out of the interior of the grotto a golden coloured cloud, and
soon after a Lady, young and beautiful, exceedingly beautiful, the like of whom
I had never seen before, came and placed herself at the entrance of the opening,
above the rose bush. She looked at me immediately, smiled at me and signed to me
to advance, as if She had been my Mother. All fear had left me, but I seemed to
know no longer where I was. I rubbed my eyes, I shut them, I opened them; but
the Lady was still there continuing to smile at me and making me understand that
I was not mistaken. Without thinking of what I was doing I took my Rosary in my
hands and went on my knees. The Lady made with Her head a sign of approval and
Herself took into Her hands a Rosary which hung on Her right arm. When I
attempted to begin the Rosary and tried to lift my hand to my forehead, my arm
remained paralysed, and it was only after the Lady had signed Herself that I
could do the same. The Lady left me to pray all alone; She passed the beads of
Her Rosary between Her fingers but She said nothing; only at the end of each
decade did She say the Gloria with me.
"When the recitation of the Rosary was finished, the Lady returned to the
interior of the rock and the golden coloured cloud disappeared with Her".
When asked to describe the Lady of the vision, Bernadette said -
"She has the appearance of a young girl of sixteen or seventeen. She is dressed
in a white robe, girdled at the waist with a blue ribbon which flows down all
along Her robe. She wears upon Her head a veil which is also white; this veil
gives just a glimpse of Her hair and then falls down at the back below Her
waist. Her feet are bare but covered by the last folds of Her robe except at the
point where a yellow rose shines upon each of them. She holds on Her right arm a
Rosary of white beads with a chain of gold shining like the two roses on Her
Bernadette then continued with her story -
"As soon as the Lady had disappeared Jeanne Abadie and my sister returned to the
Grotto and found me on my knees in the same place where they had left me. They
laughed at me, calling me an imbecile and asked me if I would go back with them
or not. I now had no difficulty in going into the stream and I felt the water as
warm as the water used for washing plates and dishes.
'You had no reason to make such an outcry' I said to Jeanne and my sister Marie,
while drying my feet; 'the water of the canal is not as cold as you would make
me believe'. They replied, 'You are fortunate not to find it so - we found it
"I asked Jeanne and Marie if they had noticed anything at the Grotto - 'No',
they answered. 'Why do you ask us?'. 'Oh, nothing' I replied indifferently. But
before we got to the house, I told my sister Marie of the extraordinary things
which had happened to me at the Grotto, asking her to keep it a secret.
"Throughout the whole day, the image of the Lady remained in my mind. In the
evening, at family prayer, I was troubled and began to cry. My mother asked what
was the matter. Marie hastened to answer for me and I was obliged to give the
account of the wonder which had come to me that day.
'These are illusions' answered my mother - 'You must drive these ideas out of
your head and especially not go back to Massabieille'.
"We went to bed but I could not sleep. The face of the Lady, so good and
gracious, returned incessantly to my memory and it was useless to recall what my
mother had said to me; I could not believe that I had been deceived."
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