Thousands flock to Lourdes

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More than 55,000 people descended into Lourdes for an outdoor mass to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Our Lady's apparitions and to celebrate the World Day of the Sick.

Catholic News Service reports Bishop of Lourdes and Tarbes Jacques Perrier said Mary did not seek devotion from St. Bernadette Soubirous and Catholics but instead sought devotion to Jesus and the Eucharist.

"In the apparitions at the grotto, Mary led St. Bernadette to Jesus and today intercedes for pilgrims and leads them to Jesus," Bishop Perrier said.

"At the grotto in the Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes, a statue of Mary stands on the right side and the altar for the Eucharist is at the center, because the Eucharist is the center of devotion.

"The mission of Lourdes is to be a school of prayer, a place where it is easy, natural to pray," he said.

The Bishop noted that during the apparitions, Mary was preparing the young St. Bernadette to receive her first Communion.

St. Bernadette initially was not allowed to receive her first Communion because she did not know her catechism well enough. The book was in French and St. Bernadette only spoke the local dialect.

The Lourdes jubilee year began on 8 December 2007 on the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

During the Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict said the message of Lourdes reminds the faithful to pray and do penance. The Pope said he promised to pray for all sick people during his annual Lenten retreat, which began Sunday evening.

Lourdes bishop says Mary sought devotion to Jesus, Eucharist (Catholic News Service 11/02/08)

 

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