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Lourdes - 2009 - The Year of Benadette.

Following the 150th Anniversary Celebrations in 2008, of the Apparitions of Our Blessed Lady to Bernadette in Lourdes, in 2009 we are asked to focus our attention on St Bernadette herself.

Saint BernadetteBernadette's devotion to Our Lady did not end with the apparitions in 1858
After the apparitions Bernadette continued to live a further 8 years in Lourdes but had to take up residence with the Sisters of Charity in their Hospice to avoid all the unwanted attention.
During this time she tried her best to learn to read and write - she had had a difficult time at school. Life was not easy for her in the hospice, she was often given the most menial of tasks to do.
Bernadette decided to leave Lourdes and join the order of the Sisters of Charity in Nevers, some 480 miles away. There she lived out the rest of her short life cleaning and working in the infirmary but always fulfilling the words spoken to her by our Lady 'Pray the Rosary' and 'Penance, penance, penance'.
Bernadette wrote later in life 'I was nothing, and of this nothing God made something great.'
Bernadette never returned to Lourdes - she said 'I went to the Grotto for the last time. I said goodbye. I turned away. I did not look back'.

After her death on 16th April 1879 her body was placed in the convent's cemetery and some 30 years later was exhumed during the process of Beatification. Her body was found to be incorrupt - yet her rosary beads had rusted away. After her canonisation, in 1933, her body was placed in a glass coffin within the convent chapel, where you can see it today.

Lourdes - 2008 - The 150th Anniversay of the Apparitions.

The Grotto

It was in the French town on February 11, 1858, that 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous saw the first of 18 apparitions of the Virgin Mary.
Since then there have been 67 recognised miracles attributed to the site in the foothills of the Pyrénées.
An average of 5 million visitors a year, many of them coming in the hopes of being cured of a variety of ailments.

A year of celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady to St Bernadette at Lourdes in 1858 began with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2007. On the eve of the Feast, 7 December 2007, there was a procession from the site of the Baptism of St Bernadette in the Parish Church of the town (the original Parish Church was burnt down but the font remains in the new church) to the Cachot then to the Basilica of St Pius X. Next day, on 8 December 2007, Mass of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated in the Basilica of St Pius X by the Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias - estimates of those present varied between 33,000 and 20,000 faithful. The silence and reverence of this occasion was noticed by all present.

The 150th anniversary of the first apparition was on
Monday 11th February 2008 (Thursday 11 February 1858)
The 18th and final apparition will be commerorated on
Wednesday 16th July 2008 (Thursday 16 July 1858).
The Statue of Our Lady in The Grotto

Pope Benedict XVI has authorised special indulgences to mark the 150th anniversary of the Virgin Mary's appearance at Lourdes.
The faithful visiting the site within a year of 8 December will be able to receive an indulgence.
The Pope also said believers who prayed at places of worship dedicated to Our Lady of

Some 8 million visitors are expected to stream into Lourdes this year to take part in the celebrations commemorating the anniversary of Saint Bernadette's visions.

Pope Benedict XVI is expected to travel to Lourdes later in the year, probably in September.

St Bernadette Ceremony at The Grooto in Lourdes

The Midnight Procession
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Padre Pio was particularly fond of flowers
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