Sixth Apparition Of Our Lady Of Lourdes
On this day there
occurred an indication of the purpose of the apparitions.
A cold wind was blowing that morning, as Bernadette arrived at the Grotto in the
company of her mother and her aunt. The crowds were greater than they had been
so far. Notably absent were the members of the clergy.
In Lourdes there was an establishment called the Saint John's Club. Here, the
local free-thinkers would gather and discuss issues of the day, often forming
conclusions on events. Of course, one such issue was the events at Massabieille.
The members of the club had already made a conclusion on this particular event;
the occurrences were nothing more than the product of a neurotic imagination in
an unstable adolescent.
Of course, these men had not taken the time or trouble to witness the events
first-hand. This situation was rectified the following morning. One of this
circle, Dr. Dozous, had decided to pay a visit to the Grotto.
Dr. Dozous was not an especially religious man; in fact, quite the opposite. He
was a man of science, which - he believed - held all the answers. What need was
there for religion? After the events of that cold February morning, he changed
his opinions somewhat; he championed the cause of Bernadette and of the
Immaculate Conception, and wrote books on the miracles he later encountered at
the Grotto. He died a good death on 15th March 1884, aged eighty-five.
He himself relates what took place that morning.
"As soon as she had come before the grotto, Bernadette knelt down, took her
Rosary out of her pocket and began to pray. Her face underwent a perfect
transformation, noticed by all who were near her, and showed that she was in
communication with the Apparition. Whilst she told her beads with her left hand,
she held in her right hand a lighted candle which was frequently blown out by
the strong draught which was blowing along the Gave; but each time, she gave it
to the person nearest her to have it re-re-lit.
"I was following with great attention all the movements of Bernadette, and I
wished to know what was the state of the circulation of the blood and of the
respiration at this moment. I took one of her arms and placed my fingers upon
the radial artery; the pulse was tranquil and regular, the respiration easy,
nothing indicated any nervous excitement in the young girl.
"Bernadette, after I let her arm free, rose and advanced a little toward the
Grotto. Soon I saw her face, which until then had expressed the most perfect
joy, grow sad; two tears fell from her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. This
change occuring in her face during her station surprised me. I asked her, when
she had finished her prayers and the mysterious Being had disappeared, what had
passed within her during this long station. She answered :
'The Lady, looking away from me for a moment, directed Her glance afar, above my
head. Then, looking down upon me again, for I had asked Her what had saddened
Her, she replied - 'Pray for the sinners'. I was very quickly reassured by the
expression of goodness and sweetness which I saw return to Her face, and
immediately She disappeared.'
"In leaving this place, where her emotion had been so great, Bernadette retired
as she always did, in the most simple and modest attitude."
THE LADY DOES NOT APPEAR
After the last Apparition, Bernadette had been interrogated by Monsieur Jacomet,
the Police Commissioner; he had sought a retraction from the child, believing
that she was lying in her account of visions and a mysterious Lady. He did not
succeed. Other than an account of what she had already made known, the little
one gave nothing more away. Jacomet tried to trick Bernadette into contradicting
herself and her story - attempting to mix up the details of the story and get
her to make a mistake. He did not succeed. Finally, he had sought a promise that
she would never again return to the Grotto. At this point the interrogation had
been interrupted by the arrival of Francois Soubirous, Bernadette's father, and
the interview was abruptly terminated. Jacomet had failed at every turn.
Bernadette had retained her simplicity, humility, veracity and sweet nature
On Monday 22 February, 1858, the Soubirous parents ordered Bernadette to go
straight to school and to go nowhere near the Grotto; they had been terrified of
the Police Commisioner. The child did as instructed. At lunchtime she returned
home for a small meal and to collect a book.
She left the Cachot, but at the road to the Hospice (run by the Sister of
Charity of Nevers) she was halted. "An invisible barrier prevented me from
passing" she related later.
She could not move forward along the road - she was able only to go in the
opposite direction, toward the Grotto. Then she felt again the interior call to
the Grotto and all hesitation left her. Her course was set.
This scene was witnessed by some of the local gendarmes, stationed nearby - they
could not understand why Bernadette appeared unable to move forward. But upon
seeing her change of direction, they guessed where she was headed. Taking
another road, two of them caught up with her and asked where she was off to. She
replied simply, "I am going to the Grotto". They said nothing more, but followed
her in silence until she reached her destination.
A local woman by the name of Mademoiselle Estrade, had been walking that day and
had gone to see the now-famous Grotto. She gives the account of this days
events, which she herself witnessed:
"My companions and I noticed a number of people collecting at a spot where the
path by the fort joins the forest road. All were looking down the river and soon
a cry of satisfaction was uttered by the group - 'There she is! She is coming!'.
"We asked who was expected and they told us it was Bernadette. The child was
coming along the path; beside her were two gendarmes and behind them a crowd of
children. It was then that I saw for the first time the face of Mary's little
protégé. The seer was calm, serene and unpretending. She passed in front of us
as tranquilly as if she had been alone.
"My companions and I arrived at the Grotto. Bernadette was on her knees and the
gendarmes were standing a little way off. They did not disturb the child during
her prayer, which was long. When she rose, they questioned her and she told them
she had seen nothing. The crowd dispersed and Bernadette went away also.
"We heard that the seer had gone into the Savy mill and wishing to see her, we
went to the mill to find her. She was sitting on a seat and a woman was beside
her; I learnt that this woman was the mother. I asked the woman if she knew the
child. She replied, 'Ah, Mademoiselle, I am her unhappy mother!'. I asked why
she called herself unhappy. 'If you only knew, Mademoiselle, what we suffer!
Some laugh at us, others say our daughter is mad. Some even say that we are
receiving money for this!'.
"I asked what she herself thought of the girl and she said - 'I assure you,
Mademoiselle, that my child is truthful and honest and incapable of deceiving
me. Of that I am certain. People say she is mad. It is true that she suffers
from asthma but apart from that she is not ill. We forbade her to return to the
Grotto; in anything else I am sure she would have obeyed us, but in this matter
- well, you see how she escapes our control. She was just telling me that an
invisible barrier prevented her from going to school and that an irresistible
force dragged her in spite of herself to Massabieille.' "
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