A small cave called Massabielle, located in a remote French village, became one of the world’s most popular Catholic pilgrimage sites. The faithful travel from all over the world to pray before the statue of Our Lady placed there. Devotees have made their own grottoes in honor of this once desolate site.
A Miraculous Spring in Liberal France
The grotto of Lourdes is the site of the eighteen apparitions of Our Lady to Saint Bernadette in 1858. Our Lady called for penance and confirmed her title as the Immaculate Conception. The grotto, however, is most renowned for the many healings at the miraculous spring that runs through it.
These miracles came at a time when Enlightenment thought penetrated the nations. In addition, liberalism and its anti-Catholic doctrines were raging over Europe. Among them was scientism, the belief that knowledge can be obtained solely through scientific discovery. Its promoters ridiculed the role of Faith and painted all believers as ignorant people living in an imaginary world.
Our Lady, however, did not allow these attacks on the Catholic faith to go unanswered. The miracles performed through her intercession at Lourdes made all the religious skeptics look foolish. Their studies, theories, experiments and philosophies could not adequately explain the miraculous happenings at Massabielle.
Here are three miracles that proved scientism to be a baseless calumny against Catholicism—one of which even involved the liberal Emperor of France, Napoleon III.
1. The Miraculous Cure of Louis-Justin Bouhort
In January of 1862, Louis-Justin Bouhort, a sickly boy of less than two years of age, was taken to the waters of Lourdes as a last resort. Afflicted by infirmity since birth, his “miserable constitution” led the doctors to consider his cause hopeless.
His mother, a faithful Catholic, was not so quick to give up. When doctors warned her that the little one would live “only a matter of hours,” she rushed him to Massabielle even though the public was prohibited from going there. Onlookers shouted, trying to prevent her from ‘killing her child’ by immersing him in the piercingly-cold waters. She took no heed and submerged the boy in the water for fifteen minutes. When removed from the spring, the child’s body became stiff and blue. However, his mother took him home, confident that Our Lady had cured her child.
Upon arrival, a weak heartbeat was still detectable. The doctors feared that the mother’s act of faith had killed her child, but she continued to confide. The following day, the child woke up entirely healthy. His recovery was quick and complete. Contrary to the doctors’ diagnoses, Justin was able to walk, a prospect declared impossible since his birth.
Thus, the doctors concluded that the cause of the cure was the “almighty power of God,” not a scientific remedy.
2. Boy's Blindness and Paralysis Vanish
The cure of the four-year-old Francis Pascal was another well-documented and remarkable case.
In 1937, the boy contracted a severe case of meningitis, resulting in a fever of 104 degrees that left him blind and paralyzed.
Many doctors were summoned in vain. One physician named Dr. Darde offered constant care for the boy. When his symptoms continued into the following year, Dr. Darde declared the case hopeless and suspended all treatment. The desperate parents decided to take the child to Lourdes and pray that Our Lady would do what medicine could not.
At the miraculous spring, his mother lowered her helpless child into the water, praying to Our Lady the entire time. He cried out loudly, leading some to fear that the frigid water caused a seizure. The child survived the shock but received no immediate cure. The next day, the mother repeated her actions without any instant remedy.
Thinking her efforts had been in vain, the mother carried him back to the hospital. However, her countless prayers were not left unanswered. Within minutes, Francis began to speak, describing the things around him and even pointing to them. By his actions, he showed that both his blindness and paralysis had vanished. Jubilantly, she rushed back to the hospital where his complete cure was confirmed.
Upon returning home, Dr. Darde was surprised to see the once-dying child not only alive, but walking. Writing to the Lourdes Medical Bureau that investigates these cures, he stated that “medically, one cannot explain such a result.”
Fortunately, Francis’ family confided in Our Lady, who is not bound by medical explanations.
3. The Prince Imperial, Louis-Napoleon
Perhaps the most prominent person to benefit from the miraculous waters of Lourdes involved a member of the reigning Imperial family of France—the Bonapartes.
Napolean Bonaparte advanced the cause of liberalism wherever he ruled. His descendants continued his legacy of championing the ignoble cause of liberalism. In fact, the French government under Napoleon III (1852-1870) became known as the “liberal Empire.”
However, the prayers of Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugenie, resulted in a cure that forced local officials in Lourdes to open the grotto site that liberals had closed to the public.
Shortly following the apparitions, the two-year-old Prince Imperial Louis-Napoleon contracted tuberculosis, a disease often fatal for its victims at that time. While his father sought aid from the best doctors of France, his mother appealed to Lourdes. She sent the governess of Louis-Napoleon, Madame Bruat, to obtain some water from the miraculous spring of Massabielle.
The governess promptly obeyed and arrived at the grotto. The local liberal government forbade access to the spring and even erected barricades to prevent devotion. Even worse, all trespassers would be prosecuted, even if they prayed to Our Lady from behind the barrier.
However, the governess was intent upon completing the task given to her. She ignored the signs and barriers and knelt in prayer before the grotto, imploring Our Lady’s aid for the child’s recovery. While praying, a guard approached and told her that she would have to face judgment from the Correctional Tribunal for openly defying the law. When asked her name, she replied, “the wife of Admiral Bruat, and the Governess of His Highness, the Prince Imperial.”
Upon hearing this, the guard attempted to drop the charges, but the faithful governess insisted upon facing them with the other victims of the unjust ordinance. When she appeared before the tribunal, she paid for the fines of all those detained for praying at Massabielle.
Following the incident, the governess returned and presented the Empress with the Lourdes water, which succeeded in saving the Prince Imperial from tuberculosis. This act of God compelled Napoleon III to order the reopening of Massabielle to the Faithful of France.
Although this miracle may not have converted the Emperor, it did end the liberal suppression of Our Lady’s grotto.
A Divine Response to Liberalism
The apparitions at Lourdes were Heaven’s response to the errors of the times. When liberalism sought to subject the Catholic Church to science and reason alone, Our Lady of Lourdes provided ‘unreasonable’ miracles that defied science and confirmed many in their faith.
Aren’t the anti-Catholic ideas that sprung from the Enlightenment and liberalism still bearing poisoned fruit today? Pseudo-science is used to approve horrendous sins such as procured abortion, same-sex “marriage,” transgenderism, and euthanasia.
These errors are direct attacks against the divinely-instituted Church. Our Lady answered these attacks by her many miraculous interventions at Lourdes that contradicted the spirit and false ideas of the time.
Lourdes in Our Times: An Indispensable Message
Thus, as modern errors advance, the importance of the Lourdes message increases. When liberals discredit the Church as ‘irrational,’ these miracles are testimonies to the contrary. If science cannot disprove the miracles at Massabielle, how can they dare call the Church the fictitious one?
Because of this, spreading the message of Lourdes is indispensable. One common method of doing this is constructing grottoes based on Massabielle. Hundreds of such grottoes can be found all over the world.
In fact, the Saint Louis de Montfort Academy in rural Pennsylvania is currently building a Lourdes grotto on its campus. The boy’s school is a project of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) that seeks to give Catholic formation to young men. The school has already acquired a stone from the original Grotto in Lourdes together with one from the National Lourdes Shrine of America in Emmitsburg, Maryland. This project, currently in the fundraising stage, will spread Our Lady’s message and make reparation for the sins of liberalism.
The Spirit of St. Bernadette
Those who wish to combat liberalism must keep in mind the spirit of Saint Bernadette, the seer at Lourdes. When told by Our Lady to dig in the dirt to uncover a stream, she did so without hesitation. She ignored the crowd’s ridicule and confided entirely in the words of the Blessed Mother. This act of confidence resulted in the discovery of the spring that has cured thousands physically and converted many more spiritually.
Catholics today must have similar confidence when fighting against liberal doctrines, no matter how small the effort. Despite all obstacles, they must remember that Our Lady can use the healing of a small child to destroy the disbelief of society. So also, the building of a grotto for a new generation of young men can serve as a source of immense graces. Please consider helping them finish this project.