The Apparitions of The Blessed Virgin to Bernadette at Lourdes.
February 11, 2019,
marks the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1858 to fourteen-year-old Marie Bernade (St. Bernadette) Soubirous. Between February 11 and July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin appeared eighteen times, and showed herself to St. Bernadette in the hollow of the rock at Lourdes. On March 25 she said to the little shepherdess who was only fourteen years of age: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Since then Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and many cures and conversions have taken place. The message of Lourdes is a call to personal conversion, prayer, and charity.
The many miracles which have been performed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin at Lourdes prompted the Church to institute a special commemorative feast, the “Apparition of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.” The Office gives the historical background. Four years after the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (1854), the Blessed Virgin appeared a number of times to a very poor and holy girl named Bernadette. The actual spot was in a grotto on the bank of the Gave River near Lourdes.
The Immaculate Conception had a youthful appearance and was clothed in a pure white gown and mantle, with an azure blue girdle. A golden rose adorned each of her bare feet. On her first apparition, February 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin bade the girl make the sign of the Cross piously and say the rosary with her. Bernadette saw her take the rosary that was hanging from her arms into her hands. This was repeated in subsequent ap With childlike simplicity Bernadette once sprinkled holy water on the vision, fearing that it was a deception of the evil spirit; but the Blessed Virgin smiled pleasantly, and her face became even more lovely. The third time Mary appeared she invited the girl to come to the grotto daily for two weeks. Now she frequently spoke to Bernadette. On one occasion she ordered her to tell the ecclesiastical authorities to build a church on the spot and to organize processions. Bernadette also was told to drink and wash at the spring still hidden under the sand.
Finally, on the feast of the Annunciation, the beautiful Lady announced her name, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
The report of cures occurring at the grotto spread quickly and the more it spread, the greater the number of Christians who visited the hallowed place. The publicity given these miraculous events on the one hand and the seeming sincerity and innocence of the girl on the other made it necessary for the bishop of Tarbes to institute a judicial inquiry. Four years later he declared the apparitions to be supernatural and permitted the public veneration of the Immaculate Conception in the grotto. Soon a chapel was erected, and since that time countless pilgrims come every year to Lourdes to fulfill promises or to beg graces.
Originally a Christian holiday, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of romantic love occurring annually on February 14.
Although its origin is associated by legend Saint Valentine in Roman Catholicism, the fact is Valentine’s Day is not a religious holiday and never really has been. Valentine’s Day has historical roots mainly in Greco-Roman pagan fertility festivals and the medieval notion that birds pair off to mate on February 14.
The history of exchanging cards and other tokens of love on February 14 began to develop in England and France in the 14th and 15th centuries and became especially popular in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries.
History of Valentine’s Day?
The origin of associating the middle of February with love and fertility dates to ancient times. In ancient Athens, the period between mid-January and mid-February was the month of Gamelion, which was dedicated to the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera.
In ancient Rome, February 15 was Lupercalia, the festival of Lupercus (or Faunus), the god of fertility. As part of the purification ritual, the priests of Lupercus would sacrifice goats and a dog to the god, and after drinking wine, they would run through the streets of Rome striking anyone they met with pieces of the goat skin. Young women would come forth voluntarily for the occasion, believing that being touched by the goat skin would render them fertile. Young men would also draw names from an urn, choosing their “blind date” for the coming year. In 494 AD the Christian church under Pope Gelasius I appropriated the same aspects of the rite as the Feast of the Purification.
In Christianity, at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early lives of the saints under the date of February 14. Two of the Valentines lived in Italy in the third century: one as a priest at Rome, the other as bishop of Terni. They are both said to have been martyred in Rome and buried on the Flaminian Way. A third St. Valentine was martyred in North Africa and very little else is known of him.
Several legends have developed around one or more of these Valentines, two of which are especially popular. According to one account, Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for all young men because he believed unmarried men made better soldiers. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young couples and was put to death by the emperor for it. A related legend has Valentine writing letters from prison to his beloved, signing them “From your Valentine.”
However, the connection between St. Valentine and romantic love is not mentioned in any early histories and is regarded by historians as purely a matter of legend. The feast of St. Valentine was first declared to be on February 14 by Pope Gelasius I around 498. It is said the pope created the day to counter the practice held on Lupercalia, but this is not attested in any sources from that era.
The first recorded association of St. Valentine’s Day with romantic love was in the 14th century in England and France, where it was believed that February 14 was the day on which birds paired off to mate. Thus, we read in Geoffrey Chaucer’s (c. 1343-1400) Parliament of Fowls, believed to be the first Valentine’s Day poem:
For this was on saint Valentine’s day, when every fowl comes there to choose his mate. It became common during that era for lovers to exchange notes on Valentine’s Day and to call each other their “Valentines.” The first Valentine card was sent by Charles, duke of Orleans, to his wife in 1415 when he was a prisoner in the Tower of London. Valentine’s Day love notes were often given anonymously. It is probable that many of the legends about St. Valentine developed during this period (see above). By the 1700s, verses like “Roses are red, violets are blue” became popular. By the 1850s, romantics in France began embellishing their valentine cards with gilt paper, ribbons and lace.
Valentine’s Day was probably imported into North America in the 19th century with settlers from Britain. In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther A. Howland (1828 – 1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts. Her father operated a large book and stationery store, and she took her inspiration from an English valentine she had received.
In the 19th century, relics of St. Valentine were donated by Pope Gregory XVI to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland, which has become a popular place of pilgrimage on February 14.
But in 1969, as part of a larger effort to pare down the number of saint days of legendary origin, the Church removed St. Valentine’s Day as an official holiday from its calendar.
Saint Valentine, officially known as Saint Valentine of Rome, is a third-century Roman saint widely celebrated on February 14 and commonly associated with “courtly love.”
Although not much of St. Valentine’s life is reliably known, and whether or not the stories involve two different saints by the same name is also not officially decided, it is highly agreed that St. Valentine was martyred and then buried on the Via Flaminia to the north of Rome.
In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church removed St. Valentine from the General Roman Calendar, because so little is known about him. However, the church still recognizes him as a saint, listing him in the February 14 spot of Roman Martyrolgy.
The legends attributed to the mysterious saint are as inconsistent as the actual identification of the man.
One common story about St. Valentine is that in one point of his life, as the former Bishop of Terni, Narnia and Amelia, he was on house arrest with Judge Asterius. While discussing religion and faith with the Judge, Valentine pledged the validity of Jesus. The judge immediately put Valentine and his faith to the test.
St. Valentine was presented with the judge’s blind daughter and told to restore her sight. If he succeeded, the judge vowed to do anything for Valentine. Placing his hands onto her eyes, Valentine restored the child’s vision.
Judge Asterius was humbled and obeyed Valentine’s requests. Asterius broke all the idols around his house, fasted for three days and became baptized, along with his family and entire 44-member household. The now faithful judge then freed all of his Christian inmates.
St. Valentine was later arrested again for continuing to try to convert people to Christianity. He was sent to Rome under the emperor Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II). According to the popular hagiographical identity, and what is believed to be the first representation of St. Valentine, the Nuremberg Chronicle, St. Valentine was a Roman priest martyred during Claudius’ reign. The story tells that St. Valentine was imprisoned for marrying Christian couples and aiding Christians being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Both acts were considered serious crimes. A relationship between the saint and emperor began to grow, until Valentine attempted to convince Claudius of Christianity. Claudius became raged and sentenced Valentine to death, commanding him to renounce his faith or be beaten with clubs and beheaded.
St. Valentine refused to renounce his faith and Christianity and was executed outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269. However, other tales of St. Valentine’s life claim he was executed either in the year 269, 270, 273 or 280. Other depictions of St. Valentine’s arrests tell that he secretly married couples so husbands wouldn’t have to go to war. Another variation of the legend of St. Valentine says he refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, was imprisoned and while imprisoned he healed the jailer’s blind daughter. On the day of his execution, he left the girl a note signed, “Your Valentine.”
Pope Julius I is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole in his memory, which for a long time gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly, Porta Valetini.
The romantic nature of Valentine’s Day may have derived during the Middle Ages, when it was believed that birds paired couples in mid-February. According to English 18th-century antiquarians Alban Butler and Francis Douce, Valentine’s Day was most likely created to overpower the pagan holiday, Lupercalia.
Although the exact origin of the holiday is not widely agreed upon, it is widely recognized as a day for love, devotion and romance.
Whoever he was, Valentine did really exist, because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to St. Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.
St. Valentine is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travelers, and young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses and his feast day is celebrated on February 14.
Christmas Time and Easter Time highlight the central mysteries of the Paschal Mystery, namely, the incarnation, death on the cross, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Sundays and weeks of Ordinary Time, on the other hand, take us through the life of Christ. This is the time of conversion. This is living the life of Christ.
Ordinary Time is a time for growth and maturation, a time in which the mystery of Christ is called to penetrate ever more deeply into history until all things are finally caught up in Christ. The goal, toward which all of history is directed, is represented by the final Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
Easter season, which begins with the Easter Vigil Mass, is followed by the 40 days leading to the Ascension, and then concludes 10 days later with Pentecost. After Pentecost, Ordinary Time resumes and concludes with the solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year.
The rhythm of the liturgical seasons reflects the rhythm of life — with its celebrations of anniversaries and its seasons of quiet growth and maturing.
Ordinary Time, meaning ordered or numbered time, is celebrated in two segments: from the Monday following the Baptism of Our Lord up to Ash Wednesday; and from Pentecost Monday to the First Sunday of Advent. This makes it the largest season of the Liturgical Year.
In vestments usually green, the color of hope and growth, the Church counts the thirty-three or thirty-four Sundays of Ordinary Time, inviting her children to meditate upon the whole mystery of Christ – his life, miracles and teachings – in the light of his Resurrection.
If the faithful are to mature in the spiritual life and increase in faith, they must descend the great mountain peaks of Easter and Christmas in order to “pasture” in the vast verdant meadows of tempus per annum, or Ordinary Time.
Sunday by Sunday, the Pilgrim Church marks her journey through the tempus per annum as she processes through time toward eternity.
The Easter Mystery Celebrated in Ordinary Time
Parents are challenged to keep the Easter mystery alive in their families throughout the season of Ordinary Time; to focus on the mysteries of Christ which the Church sets before them in the weekly Mass readings and to apply those readings to their daily lives.
In this way, faith will bear fruit within their homes, intensifying through the fertile weeks of Ordinary time until its conclusion, the crowning feast of Christ the King.
Joyful Expectation at Year’s End
At the close of every Liturgical Year may we look forward with renewed hope to Christ’s coming again in glory to reign as Lord forever. For it is Jesus Christ we seek when we strive to live the Liturgical Year with the Church. He is the “Lord of time; he is its beginning and its end; every year, every day and every moment are embraced by his Incarnation and resurrection, and thus become part of the ‘fullness of time’.”
Edited by: Evan Macklin