Dear Friends of St. Jude:
At the baths of Lourdes, a Christian is laid body and soul, bare before his Mother. Naked, the visitor is lowered backward into the cold waters by the hands of attendants. Yet, the moment is saturated completely with trust in the intercession of our Lady, whose maternal presence imbues the entire Shrine. In this moment of childlike vulnerability, the wounds of the flesh and heart are exposed before the Mother of Mercy. The warmth of her maternal embrace heals all the hurts of life. In the baths at Lourdes the Christian catches a fresh glimpse of that original simplicity for which he was created, the innocence of his rebirth at baptism and the joy of the saint in eternity before the Lord.
Her apparition to the shepherd- girl, St. Bernadette, is humble and unassuming. At first the reports almost describe a possible peer of Bernadette. Our Lady appeared as a young girl of sixteen or seventeen (only a couple of years older than Bernadette at the time) and speaking not in French, but in the local language of Occitan. Like other apparitions, our Lady is dressed in a manner bold yet modest, unassuming yet feminine. She holds on her right arm a Rosary of white beads with a chain of gold shining like the two golden roses on her feet.
At Lourdes our Lady said so little, but accomplished so much. Though in appearance a girl, our Lady becomes a teacher and a guide, a physician and a healer. Her statements to Bernadette are few and not often what is remembered by history. Her words are wrought by the pained wisdom of an ancient matriarch. Suffering and penance are her message as much as she seeks a chapel to be built at the place of her appearances. Above all she declares, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” This is a statement of identity as the Mother of God and of her own “approval” of the same dogma declared by Pope Bl. Pius IX only four years prior to the apparitions. Her mission to Christians to become what they are truly called to be is clear. Our mother seeks all humanity’s return home to her Son.
To visit Lourdes as a pilgrim is a powerful and unique experience, but her maternity is not limited to one place. Throughout history she has been the pilgrim seeking those who cannot make pilgrimage. She prays for the lost and intercedes for all who call upon her name. As such, each February she makes a special visit to the Shrine of St. Jude in San Francisco, where a nine-day novena of prayer and preaching is offered in her honor. For us it is a time of grace and healing in Christ her Son, by our Lady’s powerful mediation on our behalf.