Tenth Apparition Of Our Lady Of Lourdes
Saturday 27 February 1858
The Lourdes clergy were discussing the visions at Massabieille. Abbe Peyramale had always maintained a public silence on the subject. This morning, he gathered together his three curates to give them his opinion. The speech given to them by the Abbe Peyramale was related on several occasions to Monsieur Jean Baptiste Estrade, who retells it here – “You have heard the reports which are going about respecting certain appearances which are supposed to have taken place in a Grotto near the Gave. I don’t know how much is truth and how much is fancy in the current legend, but it is our duty as Priests to maintain the greatest reserve in matters of this nature. If the appearances are genuine and of a divine character, God will let us know it in his own time. If they are illusions or caused by the spirit of lies, God has no need of our intervention to reveal the falsehood. “It would therefore be rash of us to show ourselves at present at the Grotto. If the visions are recognised as genuine later on, we shall certainly be accused of bringing about this recognition by our own machinations. If they are subsequently rejected as without foundation, we shall be ridiculed for what will be called our disappointment. So we must not take any unconsidered step or speak any rash word; the interests of religion and of our own dignity are concerned. The present circumstances demand of us the greatest circumspection.” Such was the outlook of the Lourdes Clergy at the time of the Apparitions. On the morning of Saturday 27th February, Bernadette was once again at her beloved Grotto, undaunted by the non-appearance of the Lady the day before. After all, the Lady had simply asked Bernadette to come daily for fifteen days – She had not promised to appear on each of those days. She was not disappointed today – the Lady was there in the niche. Throughout the vision the child held her blessed candle in her hand as she prayed and listened. On several occasions she bowed low, touching the earth, sometimes smiling and sometimes weeping. She also approached the foot of the rock, kissing the ground on the way. This had been done in deference to the command of the Lady – “Go, and kiss the ground in penance for sinners”. As the vision approached its end, the Lady seemed to be lost in Her thoughts for a few moments. Bernadette patiently waited. Finally, the Lady smiled on her once more, then gave her a new command – “Go and tell the Priests to have a Chapel built here”. Leaving her state of ecstasy, the child moved toward the spring – there she drank some of the water. Leaving the Grotto, Bernadette informed her Aunt Bernarde of what the Lady had said. ABBE PEYRAMALE “Though he is so good, I am more frightened of him than of a policeman!” said Bernadette to Monsieur Estrade. But despite her fear, the child headed straight for the presbytery immediately on leaving the Grotto. The Priest was praying the Divine Office in the garden as Bernadette approached. The following conversation was related by Monsieur Estrade. The Priest knew the name of the child involved in the apparitions at the Grotto, but he did not recognise the child standing before him. In Catechism class he had only caught a glimpse of her. He asked her name. On being told her name, he replied – “Oh, it’s you, is it?” His reception was cold and austere, his appearance rugged and stern. The child was terrified of him. Appearances, however, are often deceptive; such was the case with this Priest, who in reality (after the initial contact) was warm and welcoming, a loyal supporter of those in need of any kind, a true shepherd of his flock. Later, this is how Bernadette would find him. Leaving the garden, Peyramale went into the house. Bernadette followed, stopping on the threshold. Peyramale asked what it was she wanted. With her exquisite charm and simplicity, the girl replied – “The Lady of the Grotto has ordered me to tell the Priests that She wishes a Chapel to be built at Massabieille and that is why I have come.” The Priest remained unmoved. “Who is this Lady of whom you speak?” “She is a very beautiful Lady who appeared to me on the Massabieille rock.” Still Abbe Peyramale gave away nothing of his feelings. “But who is She? Is She from Lourdes? Do you know Her?” Bernadette replied that she did not. “And yet you undertake to carry messages like the one you have just given me, from a person who you do not know?” he enquired coldly. “Oh but Monsieur, the Lady who sends me is not like other ladies.” Asked to explain, she continued – “I mean that She is as beautiful as they are in Heaven, I would think”. By now, the Priest was finding it difficult to control his emotion, touched by the obvious sincerity of the girl standing before him. He asked if Bernadette had never enquired of the Lady Her name. “Yes, but when I ask Her She bows Her head slightly, smiles and gives me no answer.” Peyramale asked if the Lady was, then, dumb. “No, because She talks to me every day. If She were dumb, She would not have been able to tell me to come to you.” Peyramale asked Bernadette to describe the events which had taken place so far. He pointed to a chair and she sat. He sat opposite her and listened. Within a few minutes, the Priest lost all his doubts, although he declined to make the child aware of this fact. “You imagine that a Lady who has no name, who takes up Her abode on a rock and has bare feet, deserves to be taken seriously? My child, there is one thing I do fear – and that is that you are the victim of an illusion”. Bernadette hung her head but did not reply. Then the Priest spoke once more. “Tell the Lady who has sent you that the parish priest of Lourdes is not in the habit of dealing with people whom he does not know. Say that before anything else, he demands to know Her name and that – moreover – She must prove that this name belongs to Her. If this Lady has the right to a Chapel She will understand the meaning of my words to you; if She does not understand, tell Her that She need not trouble to send me any more messages.” Bernadette rose, curtsied and left.