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The Vision of Lourdes

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PCA507 Package of 25 icon holy cards


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Size (in inches):

3 x 5

Item Details:

This icon depicts the amazing vision beheld by the child, Bernadette Soubirous, in 1858 near Lourdes, France. Our Lady of Lourdes who revealed “I am the Immaculate Conception," has been popular subject of Catholic veneration for over a hundred years.

Icon holy cards are 3" x 5", a convenient size for use as gifts or bookmarks. The backs are blank except for a faint colophon at the bottom, leaving plenty of room for custom imprinting with your own message.

Image Origins

"She had the looks of a girl of sixteen or seventeen. She was dressed in a white robe fastened at the waist with a blue sash. On her head she wore a white veil falling behind almost to her feet which were covered, partly by her dress, partly by yellow roses. On her right arm there hung a rosary with white beads on a golden chain that shone like the two roses on her feet. She was alert, young, and surrounded by light." Thus did a young peasant girl describe the vision she saw on February 11, 1858, near Lourdes, France. Bernadette Soubirous was a poor, sickly child of fourteen. On a cold, dismal Thursday morning, she and two other children went to collect branches for firewood along the River Gave. They came to a narrow millrace which the other two children crossed, but Bernadette was afraid to follow. She stayed behind in a small cave facing the river. Hearing a rustling sound, she turned around and beheld the vision described above. The other two children returned to find Bernadette kneeling in prayer. Over the subsequent five months, Bernadette saw the apparition a total of eighteen times. She was subjected to intense scrutiny and personal attack by disbelieving townspeople and authorities. The local bishop appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate her visions, which studied the case for almost four years. On January 18, 1862, Bishop Laurence issued a decree: "We judge that Mary, the Immaculate Mother of God, did really appear to Bernadette Soubirous ... That this appearance bears every mark of truth; and that the belief of the faithful is well grounded." Pilgrims began to visit the Grotto at Lourdes in a steady stream that continues to this day. Three large churches have been built there, and a spring of water which Bernadette started miraculously during the ninth apparition, flows through a special bath house. In 1866, Bernadette entered the convent of the Sisters of Notre Dame at Nevers. She died there in 1879 at the age of thirty-six. She was declared a saint in 1933.

Theology and Symbolism

In our reproduction of this beautiful icon, Bernadette stands in the darkness of the grotto. Her head is surrounded by a halo, the iconographic symbol of sanctity. She appears to burn her fingers in her candle flame: While in the ecstasy of her seventeenth of eighteen visions, Bernadette’s hand remained thus for fifteen minutes without harm. To the left of her is a wild rose bush, a natural occupant of the cave and above which the vision of the Lady appeared. To the right of her is the flowing spring whose waters are believed to have enabled thousands of miraculous cures.

The vision of the Lady is shown upon a lozenge-shaped symbol of concentric rings and bright rays known as a mandorla. This is meant to signify a glimpse of the divine light of Heaven. Written on the outer ring of the mandorla are the words Mary spoke to Bernadette during the sixteenth apparition, "I am the Immaculate Conception." The words appear in English to the left and in the patois of the region of Lourdes on the right. These words refer to Mary’s special grace from God of being born without the propensity to sin that is the common lot of the rest of humanity. The smaller letters in red; "MP ŘY," are the Greek abbreviation for the Mother of God (Meter Theou).

The rock of Massabieille that rises above the Grotto of Lourdes is painted in the dramatic, fanciful style of mountains often seen in traditional icons; symbols of the difficult spiritual journey from the depths of sin to the heights of salvation that we all face during our lives.

Mary of the Immaculate Conception has a special place in the hearts of our monastic community, since Conception Abbey is named for this aspect of her blessed life. She is the patron saint of the Americas.

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