In 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, a pious peasant girl from a very poor family living in the Pyrenees Mountains in southern France, in a town named Lourdes. The visits – in a most unlikely part of the city: the town dump – started on February 11 and ended on March 25, at which time the beautiful lady revealed her name, saying “I am the Immaculate Conception.” It seems that heaven was confirming – and shedding additional light on – the solemn definition issued four years earlier by Pope Pius IX, in which he infallibly declared that the Virgin Mary had been preserved free from original sin from the first moment of her conception. Miracles of healing began on the day of the last apparition, when the Virgin told Bernadette to bathe in the spring of water, which was never there, but soon appeared at the Lady’s command. The healings continue to this day, and inspire millions to make the journey to this holy place. The scene of the apparition is depicted on the medal. Our Lady of Lourdes is the patroness of bodily ills, and her feast is celebrated on February 11. This beautiful Lourdes statue features the Grotto and is part of the Italian Pelligrini family collection.
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