When the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in the Massabielle grotto in Lourdes in 1858, she found in Bernadette Soubiroux a young girl whose docility and faithfulness would help her usher her divine Son’s healing love into a very sick world. Nevertheless, Bernadette was frightened. Not expecting such an apparition whilst out fetching wood for fire, Bernadette was caught completely unawares by Our Lady’s appearance. Frozen by surprise, she stood speechless in the cave. Our Lady, by simply making the sign of the cross over herself and beginning the rosary, gently led Bernadette out of her fear and into prayer. Mary’s apparitions in Lourdes has meant physical healing for some, but for St. Bernadette and countless others who have visited the holy site in the years since, Mary’s presence brought profound spiritual healing.
This is precisely the role our Blessed Mother plays at Our Lady of Lourdes High School. Our Patroness looks lovingly upon our students, just as she did St. Bernadette in the Lourdes grotto, and she leads them, through prayer, to her Son, Jesus. Like St. Bernadette, our students often find themselves frozen in fear. Fear of what the future holds, fear of failure, fear of rejection, even the simple shock of the unexpected are all part of the experience of being a teenager. How fitting it is, then, that Our Lady be there for these, her beloved children, to draw them out of their fear and into a friendship with her Son!
Christopher Alles, a man of incredible artistic talent as well as strong Catholic faith, has captured this vision in his beautiful sculpture of Our Lady of Lourdes for our school which bears her name. Our original statue represents the specific features of Mary’s apparition in Lourdes e.g. the sash around her waist, roses on her feet, etc. This sculpture, however, depicts Mary as reminding the viewer how to pray. The dynamic of Mary making the sign of the cross over herself, which Mr. Alles has so beautifully captured, gently invites the viewer to leave at her feet whatever fears may occupy his heart and so be free to pray,
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” May this sculpture of Our Blessed Lady inspire and console all who look upon her. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us! Mary, Mother of the “Lourdeans,” pray for us!
Editorial content provided by Lourdes Chaplain Fr. Michael Connolly