By Sister Redempta Twomey SSC
Columban Sister Redempta is Assistant Editor of Far East, the magazine of the Columbans in Ireland and Britain. Pope Benedict XVI will be on pilgrimage in Lourdes from 13 to 15 September.
In the semi-darkness of the confessional, the priest, Fr Romain listened to the little girl. Poor and unlettered, she told him of the strange event that had happened two days previously on the eleventh of February 1858 in the grotto of Massabielle. In the local dialect she said, ‘I saw something white, in the shape of a lady.’ A good man, he listened without showing any interest though he was amazed at the coherence of her story. One detail in particular struck him: as she bent to remove her shoes and stockings to cross the little stream and join her companions in gathering sticks, Bernadette said she heard a noise, ‘like a gust of wind.’ The priest thought of the ‘gust of the wind’ at Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 2. Was this too the Holy Spirit? It was then that the child saw ‘something white’ and knelt and prayed the rosary in front of her.