The story behind the celebration
+ On this day, the Church commemorates the Immaculate Virgin Mary who appeared to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, France, eighteen times between February 11 and July 16, 1858.
+ The memorial of Mary under the title of “Our Lady of Lourdes” was extended to the Universal Church by Pope Saint Pius X in 1907.
+ The apparition of Our Lady at Lourdes is one of the most celebrated events in the Catholic Church in the nineteenth century. In fact, the popularity of this devotion contributed to a renewal of the Catholic Faith in France and the shrine at Lourdes remains one of the most popular destinations for pilgrims in the world.
February 11, the Commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes, is also celebrated as World Day of the Sick. To read Pope Francis’ “Message for World Day of the Sick 2019,” click here.
“Christians have always sought the smile of Our Lady, this smile which medieval artists were able to represent with such marvelous skill and to show to advantage. This smile of Mary is for all; but it is directed quite particularly to those who suffer, so that they can find comfort and solace therein. To seek Mary’s smile is not an act of devotional or outmoded sentimentality, but rather the proper expression of the living and profoundly human relationship which binds us to her whom Christ gave us as our Mother.”—Pope Benedict XVI
Grant us, O merciful God, protection in our weakness,
that we, who keep the Memorial of the Immaculate Mother of God,
may, with the help of her intercession,
rise up from our iniquities.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.Access our archives of daily saint biographies here