Greetings my dear friends,
The date of February 11 has a two-fold meaning in the Church. First, it is the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. Second, it is also the World Day of the Sick. However, both observances go hand-in-hand because of the many healings and miracles that have taken place in Lourdes, France, where the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes can be found. It was on February 11, 1858, when “a beautiful woman first appeared to fourteen-year old Bernadette Soubirous, a poor French girl. Clothed in a dazzling white dress girded in blue, the woman appeared in a dirty, dank hole, a stone grotto known to locals as the ‘pigs shelter.’ On March 25, she revealed her name: ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’” (Magnificat, 151-52). Along with the visit of our Blessed Mother, a stream of water was unearthed at this time, which has been miraculous in nature and has led to many healings over the years. The Magnificat devotional states that, “Today, the grotto at Lourdes, France, receives six million visitors each year” (152).
To the World Day of the Sick, it was instituted in 1992 by Saint John Paul II and was first celebrated on February 11, 1992 at Lourdes. According to The Priest, “This day is an opportunity to reflect in particular on the needs of the sick and, more generally, of all those who suffer. It is also an occasion for those who generously assist the sick, beginning with family members, health workers and volunteers, to give thanks for their God-given vocation of accompanying our infirm brothers and sisters” (8). This is the 25th year to observe the World Day of the Sick. In his message for this year’s observance, Pope Francis reminds us to remember in a special way the sick and the dying. May we do so in our prayers and actions.