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"Aquero" is the name in the native Bigourdan dialect that 14-year old Bernadette used when she was referring to the "vision" (the Lady) until She introduced Herself as the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION. It was in Lourdes, France that Our Blessed Mother appeared on February 11, 1858 to Bernadette, while her sister Toinette and a friend, Jeanne Abadie, went looking for firewood, in the cave called Massabielle, beside the River Gave. Bernadette heard a sound like a gust of wind. Lifting her head, she saw, in the crevice of the rock, a young girl, surrounded by light, who looked at her and smiled; seventeen more apparitions were to follow after that date.
6 Days - France
Day 1: Depart the USA on an international flight to Lourdes, France, located in the foothills of the French Pyrenees. Meals will be served on the overnight flight.
Day 2: Our Tour Director welcomes and escorts us to our hotel in Lourdes, one of the greatest pilgrimage shrines in the world. It was here at the Grotto of Massabielle, that Our Blessed Mother appeared eighteen times to a young sickly child named Bernadette Soubirous asking her repeatedly to "go to the spring, drink of it and wash yourself there" (signifying the cleansing of the human heart, wounded by sin yet healed through prayer and penance), "tell the priests to come in procession (in Bigourdan dialect the word "procession" means a pilgrimage outside of one's parish into other parishes to meet with the people of God on their journey through life) and that they are to build a Chapel here", and "penance, penance, penance, pray for sinners". Then on March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, the Lady introduced Herself saying "Que soy era Immaculada Councepciou" meaning "I am the Immaculate Conception." With these words, Our Lady confirmed what the Pope had declared as official Catholic Church doctrine, that the Virgin Mary had been conceived and born without the taint of Original Sin, just four years earlier.

In 1862, a series of interrogations by bishops began. They were impressed by her simplicity, candor and modesty, the wisdom of her answers, her calm imagination and common sense above her age. To skeptics Bernadette replied, "I have been told to tell you about it. I have not been told to make you believe it". In conclusion, the Bishop of Tarbes authenticated the apparitions. Lourdes quickly became a popular shrine and Bernadette was overwhelmed with the reaction of the visitors. In April 1866, she decided to enter the convent in Nevers, saying "I have come here to hide." In July of that year, she received the habit and became known as Sr. Marie-Bernard. On April 16, 1879, she died at 3:00 PM in Nevers. (Her body was later found incorrupt and can now be viewed in a glass casket.) Please see our other itineraries which include Nevers. Dinner and overnight in Lourdes.
Day 3: After breakfast, we celebrate Mass and then participate in the walking tour of Lourdes where we visit the places associated with the life of St. Bernadette. These places include the Boly Mill where she was born, Jan. 7, 1844 to Louise and Francois Soubirous. Then we continue to the Cachot, a prison cell until 1824, which was given, free of charge, to the Soubirous family where they lived from winter of 1857 to the autumn of 1858. At the time of the apparitions, the room was dark and unhealthy. The furniture consisted of two rough beds to the right of the entrance and a single small trunk for the linen. Today, after the renovations during the winter of 95-96, one can see in all its bleakness this room of 3.72m by 4.40m. which served at the same time as a kitchen, dining room, bedroom and a place of prayer for six people.

This place reminds us that the Virgin Mary has chosen the poorest and the most ignorant to reveal to everyone that they have a special place in the sight of God. This paradox of Lourdes is nothing other than the paradox we see in the Gospels. It is the property of the Sanctuary and visited by large crowds of pilgrims during the season. The Sisters of Charity of Nevers looks after the building.

Time permitting, we will visit the Church of the Sacred Heart, built between 1875 and 1903, it retains many reminders of the old Parish Church of St. Peter that was destroyed. On the right hand side of the transept, is the Baptismal Font where Bernadette was baptized on Jan. 9, 1844, as well as the statues of the Blessed Virgin and St. John the Baptist. Dinner and overnight in Lourdes.
Day 4: A free day to explore Lourdes. You may spend it by visiting the Rosary Basilica, built between 1883 and 1889, designed in a Byzantine-influenced Romanesque style in the shape of a Greek (equal-armed) cross, featuring two unique elliptical ramps embracing a square that can hold almost 80,000 people. The Virgin Mary was described by St. Bernadette as holding a rosary in Her hand during the apparitions; the Basilica is dedicated to this theme. Its three arches depict the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries. Around the central dome, the transepts and the sanctuary contain 15 Chapels of the Mysteries, each decorated with mosaics depicting the 15 mysteries of the rosary. You may also want to visit the Crypt, and, built directly above it, the Upper Basilica; across the square is the Pius X Basilica and St. Bernadette's Church. You may also want to walk the Way of the Cross with its life-sized statues or experience the Miraculous Baths to remind ourselves that to take a bath is only an exterior sign of what God asks us, which that we bathe our hearts in the spring of His Love. Dinner and overnight in Lourdes.
Day 5: Another free day to explore Lourdes. You may also want to visit the following attractions described below. Dinner and overnight in Lourdes.

4 kilometers from Lourdes is the village of Bartres where Bernadette lived with Marie Lagues, a wet nurse, when she was 2 years old in 1846 and when she was 13 in 1857 as a shepherdess. Today, the village is visited by numerous pilgrims who come to pray at the village church St. John the Baptist and venerate a relic of the saint. You may also wish to walk this path on your own to reflect and pray in peace and quite, far from the crowds.

Lourdes fortified castle, built on a rocky peak overlooking the town and the entrance of the seven valleys of Lavedan, was once a military fortress besieged by Charlemagne and the home of the Counts of Bigorre during the 11th century. The castle has undergone many transformations throughout the centuries; its drawbridge was finally restored in the 19th century. Lourdes's fortified castle now houses the museum of Pyrenean arts and traditions and boasts an unrestricted view over the Shrines and the Pyrénées.
Day 6: We bid farewell to Lourdes as we board our flight back to the USA, arriving later that day.
The History of the Apparitions at Lourdes, France in 1858
1st: February 11
2nd: February 14
3rd: February 18 "Will you please come to this place for 15 days?"
4th: February 19
5th: February 20
6th: February 21
7th: February 23
8th: February 24 "Repent! Pray to God for the conversion of sinners!"
9th: February 25
10th: February 27
11th: February 28
12th: March 1
13th: March 2
14th: March 3
15th: March 4
16th: March 25 "I am the Immaculate Conception!"
17th: April 7
18th: July 16
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