Sixteenth Apparition Of Our Lady Of Lourdes
For the next twenty one
days, Bernadette did not go to the Grotto in the early morning as she had been
doing until then - she had not felt the call within herself which was her
summons. But surely the matter had not reached a satisfactory conclusion - after
all, the Lady had still not identified Herself, despite the child's repeated
However, the child did go to the Grotto - but alone. She would go in the late
afternoon and spend long hours in prayer and contemplation. But unlike the days
of the visions, Bernadette would not kneel in her usual place; instead, she
would go deep into the large rock vault at the base of the Grotto. There,
cloaked in the gloom of the place, she would pour out her soul to the Lady of
the Apparitions - whom she saw with the eyes of her soul, if not her body. By
this time, some pious people in Lourdes had set up a small altar beneath the
niche - upon an old table, they had placed a small statue of the Blessed Virgin,
surrounded with flowers and candles. In fact, candles burned all over the
Grotto. Whenever people were gathered at the place, they would begin to sing
hymns to the Queen of Heaven. Nearly all of the pilgrims there would leave a
small monetary donation, which would later be used to carry out the requests of
the Lady. Strangely, none of this money was ever stolen - although it was left
there with no-one to watch over it.
On the evening on March 24th, Bernadette told her parents of the feeling she had
that she was being called to the Grotto once more by an interior impulse - she
intended to return there in the morning. It had been a long time since the Lady
had visited her - more than two weeks! How long that night was - try as she
might, the child was unable to sleep. As soon as the first light of dawn began
to pierce the darkness of night, she rose and quickly dressed.
There were a number of people present there at the Grotto already; it seemed
they too felt there may be a fresh occurrence that day. But why today, after the
silence of two weeks? That was simple to answer - today was the feast of the
Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary - the day he
saluted Her as 'Full of Grace'.
So perhaps ....
Bernadette arrived at the Grotto at five in the morning, with her blessed candle
in her hand. Her parents were with her. Even before she reached the rock, she
could see the wondrous light filling the niche, in which stood her beautiful
"She was there", said
Bernadette, "tranquil and smiling and watching the crowd just as a fond mother
watches her children. When I knelt down before Her, I begged Her pardon for
coming late. Still kindly towards me, She made me a sign with Her head that I
had no need to apologise. Then I told Her of all my love and regard for Her and
how happy I was to see Her again. And after pouring out my heart to Her I took
up my beads".
At this moment, the Figure bathed in the heavenly light moved from the niche
down into the larger vault. Rising to her feet, Bernadette went into the vault
to be closer to the Lady. She remained standing in front of Her and a
conversation followed. Soon afterward, the oval of light moved back up into the
niche once more and prayers were resumed.
Bernadette herself describes the conversation and events which followed this
"Whilst I was praying, the thought of asking Her name came to my mind with such
persistence that I could think of nothing else. I feared to be presumptuous in
repeating a question She had always refused to answer and yet something
compelled me to speak. At last, under an irresistible impulsion, the words fell
from my mouth and I begged the Lady to tell me who She was.
"The Lady did as She had always done before; She bowed Her head and smiled but
She did not reply.
"I cannot say why, but I felt myself bolder and asked Her again to graciously
tell me Her name; however, She only smiled and bowed as before, still remaining
"Then once more, for the third time, clasping my hands and confessing myself to
be unworthy of the great favour I was asking of Her, I again made my request.
"The Lady was standing above the rose bush, in a position very similar to that
shown on the Miraculous Medal. At my third request, Her face became very serious
and She seemed to bow down in an attitude of humility. Then She joined Her hands
and raised them to Her breast. She looked up to Heaven.
"Then slowly opening Her hands and leaning towards me, She said to me in a voice
vibrating with emotion
'I AM THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION' (Que Soy Era Immaculada Conceptiou)
"She smiled again, spoke no more, and disappeared smiling".
After the vision, Bernadette asked her aunt Lucille to allow her to keep the
blessed candle which she had used throughout the Apparitions. Lucile agreed.
Having obtained the necessary permission, Bernadette placed the candle between
some of the rocks beneath the niche, where it slowly burned itself out.
Lucile asked why Bernadette had wanted to do this. She replied -
"The Lady asked me if I would leave the candle to burn at the Grotto - as it was
your candle, I could not leave it there without your permission".
Leaving the Grotto, the child was laughing and smiling and quietly repeating
some words to herself. Some neighbours from Lourdes came toward her and asked
the cause of her happiness and what it was that she was saying. The child
"Oh, I'm repeating the name the Lady has just this moment given me, for fear
that I might forget it. She said to me, 'I am the Immaculate Conception' ."
The child was mispronouncing the word 'Conception' and had to be corrected.
From the Grotto, the little one went directly to the Presbytery - still smiling,
still repeating the words which already were spreading so quickly throughout
She was still repeating them when she entered the garden of the Presbytery,
where Abbe Peyramale was praying his Office. He asked what she wanted today, but
the child did not hear his question.
"What's that you're saying, you conceited little thing!"
" 'I am the Immaculate Conception' it's the Lady who has just said these words
He asked if she knew what the words meant. She replied that she did not know
"I see you are still being deceived. How can you say things you don't
understand?" he asked.
"All the way from the Grotto I have been repeating the words 'I am the
Immaculate Conception' for fear that I would forget them."
"Good!" added the Priest, "I shall consider what is to be done" and he entered
the house, leaving the child and her aunt standing in the garden.
Later that day, the Priest admitted to a neighbour the effect of the child's
words on him
"I was so amazed by it that I felt myself stagger and I was on the verge of
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