Do miracles exist? I certainly felt in need of one this Christmas.
It had been a long, hard year. I was exhausted. There was no more in the tank.
Then on the day after Christmas as I flew to France for my sister’s wedding the flu struck. I spent 13 hours in airports and on planes. It was a nightmare. I needed to unplug. A week later I had recovered enough to visit Lourdes in search of that much-needed miracle.
Lourdes is the home of miracles. A spiritual powerhouse.
It all started on 11 February 1858 when a 14-year-old local girl, Bernadette Soubirous, claimed a beautiful lady appeared to her in the remote Grotto of Massabielle.
The lady later identified herself as “the Immaculate Conception” and the faithful believe her to be the Blessed Virgin Mary. A spring appeared at her feet and many sick people who bathed in the water were miraculously cured. So if a miracle was going to happen it was going to be here.
I arrived with my sister in Lourdes at midday on New Year’s Day 2013. It was cold, wet and windy and almost deserted.
I filled my little vial glass with Lourdes water from the spring at Mary’s feet.
Then I entered the grotto. There is a small box where pilgrims place their personal petitions.
I wrote mine on a small scrap of paper and placed the petition in the box and walked around to the spot where Mary had stood; running my fingers across the cold, wet rock as I went. I stopped under the statue and made my final petition.
We then left the grotto and walked around the grounds, taking photos and watching the other pilgrims come and go.
Finally as the afternoon wore on we returned to the car and drove home. I felt lighter.
As we approached my sister’s house near Auch the heavy rain stopped and the sun shone low in the late afternoon sky, creating a rainbow that stretched across the road The rainbow stayed with us for a full 15 minutes till we stopped the car and got out to admire it.
By now it was a full double rainbow and it glowed with a clarity and power I had never seen before as we stood in childlike wonder. Then making a wish, we returned to the car feeling a rush of excitement. I slept well that night, a sound, deep sleep. Since I returned to Ireland the feeling has remained with me – as has the energy that stirred inside me that day.
Do miracles exist?
I guess so.
Lourdes is famous for the “throw away your crutches” spectacular miracles. But I believe they may appear in a more subtle form. It is a kind of internal miracle where the crushed spirit is uplifted and the broken heart healed.
Below writer Laurence O’Bryan interviews me about my visit to Lourdes.