On our fifth visit to Lourdes France, we were able to participate in the nightly rosary vigil. It starts at 9 pm and lasts for about an hour. Same feeling of peace and hope enveloped me as we sang to the hymns and recitation of the rosary. Chanted with various languages I may not know but still familiar and heartfelt. The procession is more than a ceremony that for devotees like us – is a time of prayer and peace.
I’d like to share the hymn – “Ave Maria de Lourdes” in French. As seen on a short clip I recorded below.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!
O Vierge Marie, le peuple Chrétien, à Lourdes vous prie, chez vous il renvient.
Le fond de la roche s’éclaire à l’instant: la dame s’approche, fait signe à l’enfant.
“Venez, je vous prie, ici, quinze fois, avec vos amies entendre ma voix.”
Avec insistance la dame, trois fois, a dit: “pénitence” Chrétien, c’est pour toi!
“A cette fontaine venez et buvez; dans l’eau pure et sainte allez vous laver.”
“Je veux qu’ici même, au pied de ces monts, le peuple que j’aime vienne en procession.”
The icon of Our Mother Perpetual Help is one of the most well known and loved images of Mama Mary. The original icon is enshrined in the Redemptorist Church of St. Alphonsus in Rome which I was fortunate to visit last 2009. This June 27, 2016 will be it’s 150th Jubilee.
History can be traced back to year 1495, when this ancient image was enshrined in a church on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean sea. When the island was threatened by invaders, the icon was carried off, perhaps stolen, by a merchant who took it with him to Rome. This man upon arriving in Rome became severely ill. Before his death, he begged his friend to bring it to one of the churches in Rome so it can be publicly venerated. Upon his death however, the friend’s wife kept the painting in their home for several months. One night, the Lady appeared to the man in a dream & warned him not to keep the picture. Twice she appeared to him, and twice he disregarded the warning. The third time, She warned her that if he still disobeys he would die a miserable death. So the man tried to convince his wife to give up the painting, but she refused. Our Lady appeared to him for the last time and told him of his impending death, within a short time, he became sick and died.
Our Lady appeared to the man’s 6 year old daughter, telling her to tell her mother, “Holy Mother of Perpetual Help commands you to take her out of the house.” The mother, who saw the same vision, was terrified and was about to give the icon but her neighbor convinced her that she should not pay attention to just a dream. That night the neighbor became ill, realizing her fault, she made a solemn promise to the Lady and then was immediately cured. Again, the Lady manifested herself to the young girl, asked her to tell her mother to place her image in a church between St. Mary Major’s and St. John Lateran’s. That same day, March 27, 1499, the icon was delivered with a solemn procession to the church of St. Matthew the apostle. It was a quaint church and even before the image entered it’s walls, a paralyzed man was healed after the icon passed by his house.
For 300 years, this humble church where the miraculous icon was placed became a famous pilgrimage in Rome. But came the Napoleonic armies and overrun Italy, General Massena ordered the destruction of St. Matthew’s and other churches in Rome. The icon was saved by the Augustinian Order who was taking care of that church and hid it for the next 68 years.
The church of St. Alphonsus was built near the site of St. Matthew’s by the Redemptorist Order. In 1866, Pope Pius IX ordered that the icon be given to Redemptorists and place it where the Lady has chosen it to be, in St. Alphonsus’ church. He also encouraged – Mary under the title of – Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) make known to the world. They have successfully done this, that’s why there are many shrines of Our Mother of Perpetual Help throughout the world, and became shrines of great devotion and prayers.
One of the icons is located in Redemptorist church in Baclaran, where my devotion to Mama Mary has started. Every Wednesday there’s novena masses hourly, and prayers of devotees like myself has been heard many times and even to this day I continue to trust on the Perpetual Help from Our Mother…
Weeks before Mother’s Day (May 8, 2016), I began reading articles about Our Lady of Fatima. It’s the kind of pursuit that gives me hope, deeper sense of faith and rekindled adoration for Mama Mary. Growing up with nanay (grandmother), I was introduced to hearing weekly mass at Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, where the image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Succor) is housed. And for a devotee like me, this is my chance to write something for her which is also timely for her feast day on May 13. Our Lady of Fatima is another title of Mama Mary, here’s the summary of its beautiful tale which I dedicate to Our Lady. She is the best mother after all, She is the Mother of Jesus, our Savior…
Our Lady appeared six times to three shepherd children namely; Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta between May 13, 1917 to October 13, 1917 at Fatima, Portugal.
On 13th of May (month of Our Lady) 1917, a beautiful woman in all white, more brilliant than the sun shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun, appeared to the 3 children saying; “Please don’t be afraid of me, I came from heaven.” She wore a white mantle edged with gold and holding a rosary in her hand. She asked them to pray and devote themselves to the Holy Trinity, and pray the rosary daily to bring peace to the world and end war.
The last apparition on the 13th of October 1917 around 70,000 gathered and witnessed the “miracle of the sun” or “dancing sun”. It was a miracle promised by the Woman to show that these apparitions were true. This is quoted from the book – “A Woman clothed with the Sun” – gradually the sun grew pale, lost it’s normal color and appeared as a silver disk at which all could gaze directly. Then, to the astonishment of all present, rays of multi-colored shot out in every direction; red, blue, yellow, every color of the spectrum. Meanwhile, the very heavens seemed to be revolving as the sun spun madly on its axis like a gigantic wheel of fire, painting the rocks, the trees, the faces of people with sunshine human eyes has never seen before. Three times it stopped and three times the mad dance resumed. Then, while the crowd went to its knees in abject terror, the sun suddenly seemed to be torn loose from its place in the heavens. Down it hurtled, closer and closer to the earth, staggering, “drunkenly” as it zigzagged through the skies while from all parts of the now terrified multitude arose cries of repentance and appeals for mercy. “Its the end of the world,” Shrieked one woman hysterically.” “Dear God, don’t let me die in my sins,” cried another.” “Holy Virgin, protect us,” implored a third.” Suddenly, as if arrested in its downward plunge by an invisible Heavenly hand, it poised from a moment and then, in the same series of swirling motions it began to climb upward till it resumed its accustomed place in the heavens. Gone was the silver disk with the brilliant rays. It was once more a ball of fire at which nobody could look directly with unshaded eyes.
There were visions that only the three children was able to see, they were given messages of warning and hope. Messages of the best mother in the world – Our Mother, Mary.
“Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne.”
“No, my daughter. Are you suffering a great deal? Don’t lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”
“When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.”
“They must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended.”
“If men knew what eternity is, they would do everything to change their lives.”
Our Lady of Fatima is a title of Our Lady. Year 1917, Mama Mary appeared to 3 shepherd children of Fatima, Portugal. Today, this sanctuary is visited by 4 million devotees every year and the feast of Our Lady of Fatima is celebrated on May 13th. And in preparation for this special day, here’s the 9 day novena that you can recite starting today (May 5) till May 13 the actual feast day.
Most Holy Virgin,
who deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds
the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the rosary,
inspire our hearts with a sincere love of this devotion,
so that by meditating on the mysteries of our redemption that are recalled in it,
we may gather the fruits and obtain the conversion of sinners,
and this favor which I earnestly seek,
(mention your request)
which I ask of thee in this novena, for the greater glory of God,
for thine own honor, and for the good of all people.
Dear Mama Mary, today we celebrate the feast of your appearances to Saint Bernadette at Lourdes, France. We give honor to you and to the grace of your Immaculate Conception. The waters of Lourdes are blessed with the healing mercy of your Son, Jesus, our Lord. I, Among the many believers and pilgrim-goers who went to your grotto, was very blessed to be healed. Months after I bathed in that miraculous waters, diagnostic tests revealed the disappearance of cysts/formations in my system. You truly are our source of healing both spiritual and corporal. My gratitude is forever yours my Dearest Mother. Please continue to pray for us. Amen
You’ll see this cross as you enter the sanctuary. It’s considered to be the holiest site in Lourdes, France. Before, We thought of owning an apartment and even considered hiring a keeper to stay there. Though one helpful and local tour guide told us not to, because of taxes and high fees for maintenance,etc. Lourdes has become a favorite place of mine, last year we stayed for 4 days and I went to the chapel daily. Prayed and drank in the sacred spring that welled up for the first time during the apparition of Mama Mary to St. Bernadette. The water was cold but it didn’t feel uncomfortably cold and chilly. Going back to the church, it was designed by Myroslav Nimciv, while its Byzantine interior polychrome decorations were executed by artist Jerzy Nowosielski. A beautiful statue of Mama Mary is standing right in the middle & facing the main basilica.
Her blue sash seemed to be swaying gracefully with the wind. And an intricate crown of gold-embroidered her head and perpetual face. The sanctuary is about 50 hectares with 22 places of worships, includes the sacred grotto, two main basilicas (photo of entrance seen below), and an assortment of chapels for the sick and pilgrim goers like me. Roman Catholic faith is alive in Lourdes, I remember hearing Holy Masses in different languages like English, Spanish and Italian. One morning when I went alone to pray, I was mistaken to be an Italian and asked me to take photos of her group with the church as their background. Delighted and feeling helpful, I agreed and then went on to pray in the grotto.
The rest of the places in Lourdes will be featured on my next posts, and hopefully I’ll have time to post more pictures as well. Much said about this quaint town, I heard it is second to Paris in terms of tourism and number of hotels. Most of my happy memories were also from this place, I was solely raised by my grandmother with strict values and traditions and visiting Lourdes is very sacred to me. I’m planning to bring her here someday, if she is able to travel, God willing.
Year 2011 when I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis and ovarian cysts, a condition that made it crucial for me to conceive again. I had Laparoscopic procedures to treat and remove some of it, but endometriosis in my uterus remain intact upto this day, this is one of the many difficult struggles we have to face. But it has made my faith deeper and magnified, so when we went to visit Lourdes last May I was more emotional than our previous pilgrims. I looked at the other hopefuls, some were more ill than I am, and in their stretchers and/or wheelchairs. I know we’re all present to experience the miracle, that one day we will be healed with our faith. Tearful yet happy, the joy this place brings, never fails to remind me of God’s wonderful grace and love. – mitch
I have been to Europe a couple of times. Mainly as pilgrims particularly to this holy place in Lourdes, France. It is a small town in Pyrenees in southwest France. And the biggest pilgrimage destination in France and one of the most popular sanctuaries in the world. Pilgrims come here and drink or bath in the miraculous water that sprung during the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Saint Bernadette. Photo above shows the grotto and the exact location where Mama Mary was seen by the young visionary St. Bernadette. The last time I visited which was just last year, I was able to bathed in the healing waters, priorities are given to the sick and elderly. Courteous and helpful nuns are there to assist you. I wish i have more photos to show but at that moment I was filled with joy. Besides, cameras are not allowed inside the cubicles. Everything is very organized, surpisingly the line wasn’t long. Then I entered one of the cubicles while draped in blankets provided by the assisting nuns. I wept as I was overwhelmed with gladness, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. And Mama Mary’s sacred image was there in the foot of the pool and kissed her after plunging in the water. I knew right then I was healed instantly…