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France's apparition of the Virgin Mary
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The pilgrimage of Lourdes is founded on the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to a poor, fourteen-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubiroux. There were eighteen apparitions in all, with the first occurring in February of 1858 and the last occurring in July of the same year.
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LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The mysterious vision Bernadette saw in the hollow of the rock Massabielle was that of a young and beautiful lady. "Lovelier than I have ever seen," said the child. But the girl was the only one who saw the vision. Now and then the apparition spoke to the seer who also was the only one who heard the voice.
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On one occasion the apparition bade Bernadette go and tell the priests she wished a chapel to be built on the spot and processions to be made to the hollow. At first the clergy were incredulous. It was only four years later, in 1862, that the bishop of the diocese declared the faithful "justified in believing the reality of the apparition".
A basilica was built upon the rock of Massabielle and in 1873 the great "national" French pilgrimages were inaugurated. Three years later the basilica was consecrated and the statue solemnly crowned. In 1883 the foundation stone of another church was laid, as the first was no longer large enough. It was built at the foot of the basilica and was consecrated in 1901 and called the Church of the Rosary. Pope Leo XIII authorized a special office and a Mass, in commemoration of the apparition, and in 1907 Pius X extended the observance of this feast to the entire Church; it is now observed on Feb. 11.
The pilgrimage to the basilica attracts thousands every year, some of whom come in the hopes of finding healing in the Lourdes water springs, which reportedly has miraculous healing powers.
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