On 11th February 1858 Bernadette Soubirous, a fourteen year old girl went to gather firewood at the rock of Massabielle with her two sisters, along the bank of the river Gave on the outskirts of the small French town of Lourdes. It was a cold, damp and misty morning. Bernadette’s suffered badly with asthma, so when the three girls reached the stream Toinette and Jeanne waded through the cold water, leaving Bernadette alone. Wanting to join her sisters, Bernadette leaned against a boulder in the cave to remove her stockings. “…I had hardly any time to take off my stockings when I heard the sound of wind, as in a storm.” Bernadette noticed branches and brambles waving beside the cave, but the trees in the meadow were not moving. As she put her foot into the water she looked up “I saw at that moment a girl in white, no bigger than myself, who greeted me with a slight bow of her head…” So began the series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Bernadette. There were eighteen apparitions between 11th February and 16th July 1858; during the sixteenth apparition on 25th March that the lady declared “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
7.30pm Mass on Tuesday will be celebrated at the Lourdes altar in St James’ Church, Athboy.