On December 8, 1854, over 150 years ago, Pope Pius IX announced the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception to the world. Only 3 years later, the apparition of a young girl appeared to 14-year-old Bernadette Soubrious in Lourdes, France, identifying herself with these words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Through this apparition of the Virgin Mary to this young girl in France, the Blessed Mother revitalized & continues to energize the faith of millions of believers. The feast of Our Lady of Lourdes was officially declared by the Church in 1907, & we continue to honor the Virgin Mary with this feast on February 11 to this day.
Countless pilgrims, many of them poor or sick, travel to Lourdes each year due to the many ways healing has come to the faithful on these pilgrim visits. Healing is also the focus of our Gospel today, as Mark the Evangelist tells us that the people were scurrying all over the country bringing people to heal Jesus for healing, even bringing the sick on mats. Through these healings, Jesus proclaimed God’s kingdom and showed us what God’s kingdom was all about.
Today, it is amazing how pilgrims from all over the world flock to Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, and other holy sites to find something in their lives. Some come for the healing. Others come for something that they can’t even put into words. As we honor Jesus and the blessed Mother today in a very special way, may we lift up them all that we need healed in our own lives and in the lives of our family and loved ones.