In 1854 the Church defined as infallible the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Four years later in the little town of Lourdes in southern France, Our Lady made a number of appearances to a fourteen-year-old peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous. Saint Bernadette later recounted that the Blessed Virgin was so beautiful that it was impossible to describe her.

This day marks the first apparition of Our Lady to Bernadette. There were eighteen apparitions in all the last of which was 16 July 1858. The message of Lourdes is a call to personal conversion, prayer, and charity.

When asked by Bernadette her name, the Virgin only smiled sweetly. Finally, Our Lady revealed herself to Saint Bernadette as the Immaculate Conception. From In Conversation With God, Scepter (1997)

This photograph was taken at the Lourdes Shrine in Litchfield, Connecticut.

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