Friday, October 30, 2009
GROTTO OF MASSABIELLE, LOURDES: THE SPRING IN THE GROTTO
On 25 February 1858, during the ninth apparition, Our Lady of Lourdes told Bernadette to go to the spring, drink and wash. Her conduct seemed strange. She crawled forwards and backwards into the cave. She began to dig in the damp earth and tried to drink the muddy water rising to the surface but threw it away three times because it was very dirty. At her fourth attempt, she drank the water and smeared her face. The crowd shouted and jeered at her. "The girl is mad," they said. This was what the young seer had to say, "She told me to drink from the spring and to wash myself. Failing to see anything, I went to drink at the river. She told me that it wasn't there; pointing , she indicated that I should go below the rock." The story of the spring in the grotto thus began.
The muddy water continued to flow, becoming clearer and more abundant. On the evening of the same day, Louis Bouriette, a stonemason who was irremediably blinded in the right eye 20 years earlier, bathed his right eye in the water from the spring. His sight was completely restored. On 28 February 1858, Blaisette Soupene who was suffering from a chronic infection of the eyes was healed by the spring water. On the same day, a moribund terminally ill two-year-old boy, Justin Bouhort, was immersed in the spring water. He was restored to life and health. On 1 March 1858, Catherine Latapie, whose arm was paralysed in an accident, was immediately healed when she plunged it into the spring.
The extraordinary healings at Lourdes continued. Until today there are altogether 67 healings recognized by the Church as miraculous. The spring is now clearly visible on the left at the back of the grotto. The spring feeds the water taps on the left of the grotto and the baths on the right. The baths were built in 1955. There are altogether 17 baths, 11 for women and 6 for men. Hundreds of pilgrims, sick or healthy, immersed themselves in the baths each day to purify themselves and to renew their baptism.
The spring water is not a magical liquid nor does it have any special healing powers. It is just ordinary spring water but Our Lady of Lourdes uses this water as a healing instrument at times to demonstrate the reality of her presence in this holy place.
I brought home with me more than 200 postcards from Lourdes. Above is one of them. You will be able to see the source of this miraculous spring in this postcard. This is how the spring is visible today. It is covered with glass and illuminated.