Seventh Apparition Of Our Lady Of Lourdes
Tuesday 23 February 1858
Mademoiselle Estrade was determined that her brother, Jean Baptiste, should also see what was happening at Massabieille. Monsieur Estrade was a writer. That evening at supper, she told him of her desire to witness the child in ecstasy, but said that since it was not fitting for a lady to walk alone on such a road, would he be kind enough to accompany her? He replied that he would not be so kind. Later that evening, Monsieur Estrade paid a visit to his friend, Abbe Peyramale, the parish Priest. During their conversation, the subject of Mademoiselle Estrades request came up; the priest replied that going to the Grotto could do no harm, and that had he not been a member of the clergy he would have been there already. Monsieur Peyramale also believed that the visions were nothing more than the neurosis of a child who was unstable. So the next morning, both Monsieur and Mademoiselle Estrade left home for the Grotto. He asked his sister had she remembered to bring her opera glasses. They arrived at the grotto at six in the morning, just as dawn was beginning to light the sky. He later estimated that some two hundred people were already present, even before Bernadette appeared. The child appeared a few minutes later – soon she was in prayer before the niche. Close to her stood Monsieur Estrade – he had made a point of getting as close as possible, using his elbows to achieve this goal. With no sign of awkwardness or self-consciousness, the child took the Rosary from her pocket and crossed herself in her usual profound manner; Monsieur later commented that if the sign of the Cross is made in Heaven, it must be as Bernadette made it that morning. All the while she was praying she kept on looking up into the niche, like one who was waiting. Suddenly, her whole appearance was once more transformed and she began to smile. Estrade said she “was no longer Bernadette; she was one of those priviledged beings, the face all glorious with the glory of Heaven, whom the Apostle of the great visions has shown us in ecstasy before the throne of the Lamb”. All doubt removed, the men present removed their hats and fell to their knees. They were in no doubt that the child did indeed see a heavenly Lady in the hollow of the rock. Now the child appeared to be listening; she seemed grave and serious and would occasionally bow low. At other moments she seemed to be asking questions. She appeared transfused with joy whenever the Lady answered her. At points, the conversation was interrupted and the Rosary would continue, with the young child never for a moment taking her eyes off the beautiful sight she beheld. The vision lasted for an hour. At its conclusion, Bernadette moved on her knees toward the rose bush and there she kissed the earth. The radiance of her face slowly faded, before she rose and left in the company of her mother. Afterward, Bernadette was asked what the Lady had said on this occasion. She replied that the Lady had entrusted her with three secrets, but that these concerned no-one but herself. She also said that she was allowed to reveal these three secrets to no-one, not even her confessor; for many years afterward, people (including priests and bishops) tried their best to make the seer give up her secrets. But Bernadette carried them with her to the grave.