Posted by: fvbcdm | February 11, 2015

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (11 Feb 2015)

The 11th of February is the anniversary of two interesting events as far as we Catholics are concerned.

On February 11, 1858, Our Blessed Mother appeared to a 14-year-old peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, in the Pyrenees mountains in southwestern France. It was the first of eighteen apparitions, during which she and the enraptured teenager recited the Rosary together (the beautiful lady in the grotto where the apparitions occurred recited the Our Father’s and Glory Be’s, and then listened with obvious delight as the child recited the Hail Mary’s.) The beautiful lady, whose identity wasn’t yet known, told Bernadette that she wanted processions to come to the spot, that she wanted a chapel built there, and then she instructed Bernadette to drink from the spring and wash there. When she mentioned “the spring,” Our Lady pointed to a spot on the riverbank where Bernadette was kneeling. There was no visible spring there, so Bernadette went to the river thinking that that was what the beautiful young woman meant. “No; not the river. The spring,” the Lady said and again pointed to a spot where no water was to be seen. So Bernadette began to dig with her hands into the soil. The small hole that she dug filled with water which began to flow. It is flowing to this day. And that water, although frequently analyzed and found to be perfectly ordinary mountain spring water, has been the occasion of a number of miraculous cures.

On the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, the lady finally answered Bernadette’s question, repeated several times because of the request of her family, friends, and even the parish priest. She said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Bernadette didn’t know what that meant.  Just four years earlier, Pope Blessed Pius IX had defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of Jesus. Now, this entrancingly beautiful young woman in the grotto was telling Bernadette and the world that she was that immaculately conceived mother of our Redeemer. Lourdes has become the greatest and most popular shrine in the Catholic world, attracting millions annually who go there to worship Our Divine Lord, the son of the immaculate virgin, to venerate her, to form processions, pray the rosary, and drink from the spring water and wash there.

Then, on February 11, 1929, the Lateran Treaty was signed by representatives of the Italian government and Pope Pius XI bringing into existence a tiny new nation, but of immense importance. The new nation is called Vatican City State; it is located within the city of Rome, but is an independent country ruled by the Pope. It importance is due to the fact that between 1860 and 1870, the emerging nation of Italy robbed the Church of its territories in the Italian peninsula so as to incorporate them into the newly unified nation of Italy. In protest against this gross injustice, the Pope withdrew into the walls of the Vatican and refused to recognize the legitimacy of the state of Italy. The Italian people, most of whom were and are Catholic, were caught in the conflict between their Church and their nation. This unhappy situation lasted for some sixty years, until the Pope proposed to Mussolini, the premier of Italy, the solution that has proven to be so successful. The Church now recognizes the legitimacy of Italy; the little enclave around Saint Peter’s basilica on the west bank of the Tiber in Rome is an independent country of which the Pope is sole ruler, and the two nations recognize each other’s rights and territories.

Most of us think that Vatican City State has existed for centuries, as long as the ancient buildings which are treasure-houses of art, have been there. But the little independent country is only [86] years old this year, and has proven to be a great success of diplomacy and political justice. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note: This message was composed some years ago.

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