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Our Lady Of Lourdes – Episcopal Commission Report

On 18th January 1862, the Bishops Commission finally published the conclusions it had reached.

“The Charge of Monseigneur the Bishop of Tarbes, giving judgment on the Appearance which has taken place at the Grotto of Lourdes.

“The event of which we are speaking to you has been for four years the object of our anxious study. We have followed it in its different phases and been advised by a commission composed of holy, learned and experienced priests who have questioned the child, studied the facts, examined and weighed everything. We have also sought the opinion of scientists and we are finally convinced that the Appearance is supernatural and divine, and that consequently, She whom Bernadette has seen is the Most Blessed Virgin Herself. Our conviction is based , not merely upon the testimony of Bernadette herself, but more especially upon the events which have taken place and which can only be explained by divine intervention.

“The testimony of the young girl is in every way as satisfactory as possible. To begin with, her sincerity cannot be doubted. Who that has questioned her can fail to admire the simplicity, the candour, the modesty of this child? Whilst everyone is talking about the wonders which have been revealed to her, she alone keeps silence. She only speaks when she is questioned and then she recounts everything without affectation and with a touching simplicity, and she replies to the numerous questions addressed to her without hesitation, giving answers clear and precise, very much to the point and bearing the stamp of intense conviction. She has been tested most severely but no menaces have ever shaken her; she has responded to the most generous offers by a noble disinterestedness. She never contradicts herself; in all the different examinations which she has undergone, her story never varies; she never adds to it or takes away from it. Bernadettes sincerity cannot then be disputed. we may add that it never has been disputed; even her opponents, when she has had opponents, have paid her that homage.

“But if Bernadette has not deliberately deceived us has she not been deceived herself? May she not have thought that she heard and saw something which she did not hear and see? Has she not been the victim of an hallucination? How is it possible to believe such a thing? Her wise responses show that the child possesses a clear mind, a calm imagination, a common-sense above her age. The religious sentiment has never shown itself in her under the form of excitement; no-one has ever discovered in this young girl intellectual disorder, mental vagaries, eccentricity of character or any hysterical affection which might predispose her to creations of the imagination. She has seen the Appearance, not merely once but eighteen times; she saw it first of all suddenly, when nothing could have led her to expect the vision, and afterwards during the fortnight when she expected to see it every day, for two days she saw nothing, although she was in the same place and in exactly the same circumstances. And then again, observe what happened during the Appearances. A thorough transformation took place in Bernadette; her face wore a new expression, her eyes lighted up, she saw things which she had never seen, she heard a language which she had never heard, a language whose meaning she did not always understand but which never left her memory. All these circumstances together make it impossible to believe in the theory of an hallucination; the young girl has, then, really seen and heard a being who calls Herself the Immaculate Conception and as this phenomenon cannot be explained by natural laws, we are bound to believe that the Appearance was supernatural.

“The testimony of Bernadette, important in itself, gathers yet fresh force from the marvelous facts which have taken place ever since the beginning of the Appearances. These marvelous facts are indeed the complement of the Appearances. If the tree is to be judged by its fruits, we may certainly say that the Appearances of which the young girl tells us is supernatural and divine, for the results it has produced are supernatural and divine…

“How can we fail to be struck by the dispensations of providence? At the end of the year 1854 Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The winds carried to the ends of the earth the Pontiffs words… and now about three years later the Blessed Virgin, appearing to a child, says to her ‘I am the Immaculate Conception, I wish a chapel to be erected here in My honour’. Does it not seem that She Herself wished to consecrate with Her approval in the face of all the world, the infallible decree of Saint Peters successor?…

“For these reasons, after having conferred with our venerable brethren the dignitaries, canons and chapter of our Cathedral Church, the Holy Name of God being invoked, taking as our guide the rules wisely laid down by Benedict XIV in his treatise on the Beatification and Canonisation of Saints, in order to distinguish true Appearances from false (Book III, ch.51); in view of the favourable report which has been presented to us by the commission established to inquire into the Appearance at the Grotto of Lourdes and the facts relating to it; in view of the written testimony of the doctors whom we have consulted concerning the numerous cures obtained by the use of the water from the Grotto; considering in the first place that the fact of the Appearance, whether in relation to the young girl who has told us about it or in relation to the extraordinary results it has produced, can only be explained by the intervention of a supernatural cause;

“Considering in the second place that this cause can only be divine, inasmuch as the effects produced are on the one hand visible signs of grace, such as the conversion of sinners, on the other hand results outside the ordinary laws of nature, such as miraculous cures, and can therefore only proceed from the Author of Grace and the Lord of Nature;

“Considering lastly that our conviction is strengthened by the enormous crowds of the faithful who come spontaneously to the Grotto, who have not ceased to come ever since the first Appearances and whose purpose is to ask for blessings or to give thanks for those already received …

“After having sought the light of the Holy Spirit and the assistance of the Blessed Virgin, we have declared and do declare that which follows –

“We judge that Mary, the Immaculate Mother of God, did really appear to Bernadette Soubirous on the 11th February 1858 and on certain subsequent days, eighteen times in all, in the Grotto of Massabieille, near the town of Lourdes; that this Appearance bears every mark of truth and that the belief of the faithful is well-grounded. We humbly submit our judgment to that of the Sovereign Pontiff who is charged with the government of the Universal Church…

“In order to carry out the wish of the Blessed Virgin, expressed more than once at the time of the Appearances, we propose to build a sanctuary upon the ground adjoining the Grotto, which has become the property of the Bishop of Tarbes… We need therefore, in order to carry out our intention, the assistance of the clergy and laity of our diocese, of the clergy and laity both of France and of foreign countries. We appeal to their generosity and especially to all devout persons of every country to whom the cult of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary is dear…

“This our charge is to be read and published in all churches and chapels. Given at Tarbes on the 18th January 1862, Festival of the Chair of Saint Peter at Rome.

“Signed, Bertrand Severe Laurence, Bishop of Tarbes.”

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