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How relevant is the Lourdes story today?   |

Arts and Culture

How relevant is the Lourdes story today?  

Maridol Ranoa-Bismark -
How relevant is the Lourdes story today?     
The front cover of the coffee table book "A Ti Virgen de Lourdes – The Filipinos’ Devotion to Virgen de Lourdes: The Magnet of Multitudes."

MANILA, Philippines — Fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous was a most unlikely future religious rock star.

She was small (4 feet, 7 inches). She was sickly. She was born into poverty. She could hardly read and write.

It is said that the Mother of God arranged events so she could appear to Bernadette — who would  be canonized in 1933  — that special day. Her mother sent Bernadette out to get firewood for the family. But Bernadette couldn’t cross the river that led to the place where there was firewood. Afraid that the sickly Bernadette would catch a cold, they left her alone by the riverbank.

There, while taking off her stockings to follow her companions and cross the river, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception appeared to Bernadette, not once but several times, at the now famous grotto of Massabielle.

Our Lady asked for penance and prayers for sinners. She admitted to Bernadette that she could not give her happiness on earth but promised to make her happy in her next life.

She also asked Bernadette to dig a well on the ground and drink from the water she found there. From this sprung the miraculous healing waters that pilgrims all over the world gravitate to to this day.

Role model for Gen Zs, Millennials

Today, there are a lot of young Bernadettes in our midst. These are young people struggling with many issues — mainly mental health ones arising from social media. Posts about the latest clothes and gadgets, places to see and be seen, are everywhere. Young people, who, like Bernadette, cannot afford these things, can only look on.

Bernadette’s perseverance could be their saving grace.

"Like her, many young people experience different struggles of this world," noted Ma. Teresita A. Arvisu, editor-in-chief of the coffee table book "A Ti Virgen de Lourdes – The Filipinos’ Devotion to Virgen de Lourdes: The Magnet of Multitudes."

But, like Bernadette, Arvisu explained, these young people can rely on Our Lady and strive to live a holy life.

"Millennials and Gen Zs can look at Our Lady as a mother, refuge and source of consolation. We can imitate and live her virtues in this world where sometimes the sense of having God is not the focus," she added.  

When sickness comes, Our Lady can help us. We can ask her to intercede for us in our afflictions, added Arvisu.

This is why  the Committee of the Canonical Commission tapped Arvisu and her team to come up with the book.

The 420-page book starts with the messages of Mama Mary to St. Bernadette, how the Spanish Capuchins propagated the devotion in the Philippines, how it grew, the wartime struggles, the transfer from Intramuros to Quezon City to a new sanctuary for the Blessed Mother at Lourdes Church, and the milestones, including the pontifical coronation of the venerated image of Our Lady of Lourdes.

It contains art works, historical photos and images.

The book is available at the religious store of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes along N.S. Amorante St. (formerly Retiro), Quezon City.

RELATED: Our Lady of Lourdes and 31st World Day of the Sick

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