The Relics of Saint Bernadette will begin their first US tour in Florida in April

By Toni Pallatto, Catholic Press Service

MIAMI (CNS) — The relics of Saint Bernadette, the Marian seer from Lourdes, France, will make their first tour of the United States.

The visit will begin in South Florida at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Miami, with a morning welcome mass on April 7. The following day, the relics will visit St. Bernadette Church in Hollywood, Florida and then return to Our Lady of Lourdes Church.

On April 11, the Monday of Holy Week, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami will celebrate an evening Mass at the church, which will be followed by a candlelight procession. The relics will remain at Our Lady of Lourdes until April 18, Easter Monday, when a multilingual farewell mass will be celebrated.

The relics will go to two other Florida dioceses, Palm Beach and St. Petersburg, then zigzag across the country to 23 other dioceses, visiting 34 churches, cathedrals and shrines. Last stop is St. Bernadette Church in Los Angeles from July 31 to August 31. 4.

The full US Relics Tour schedule is available at

“I saw a great opportunity here, especially with the current state of our world,” said Bishop. Kenneth Schwanger, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Miami, who helped make this tour happen. “I started calling parishes across the country with the names of Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Bernadette to make them aware of this grace,” he said, and the result is the upcoming tour.

For the relics to visit, he explained, Bishop Wenski had to make a request to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes) in France, which he did more of three years, Msgr. Schwanger told the Florida Catholic, Miami’s archdiocesan newspaper. “But with COVID, all requests have been delayed.”

Around the time Miami’s request was granted, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes expressed interest in a national tour.

The Vatican has granted a plenary indulgence for those visiting the relics during the visitation. During the stay in Miami, masses will be offered daily at Notre-Dame de Lourdes as well as “le geste de l’eau”, the water of Lourdes.

On February 11, 1858, a “lady in white” began her 18 visits to a poor, uneducated 14-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubirous, in the obscure city of Lourdes in southern France – population 4,100 – at the Grotto of Massabielle. For six months, asked Bernadette to come and visit him.

“I don’t promise you happiness in this world but in the next,” the “lady in white” told Bernadette, who became the messenger to the local community, priests and bishop of Tarbes, France. . She will appear 18 times to the girl.

At the 16th apparition, Bernadette asks the “lady” her name, to which she replies: “I am the Immaculate Conception”.

Father Dominique Peyramale, the local parish priest, was immediately convinced that Bernadette was communicating with Mary, because neither Bernadette nor anyone in the local community could have known until a few years earlier, in 1854, this theological doctrine was declared by the Church as dogma. stating that Mary, by the grace of God, “was conceived free from the stain of original sin through her role as Mother of God”.

The priest brought Mary’s message, that a chapel should be built there, to the Bishop of Tarbes, who three years later confirmed that the apparition was indeed Mary.

His instructions became reality with the construction of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, the washing and drinking of Lourdes water, and the arrival of pilgrims to take part in night processions by candlelight.

Bernadette left Lourdes to pursue her religious vocation within the community of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers in 1866. She saw the chapel completed but never returned to Lourdes. She died in 1879, was proclaimed blessed in 1925 and canonized in 1933.

His body, exhumed in April 1925 for his beatification, was found intact. Fragments of the fifth and sixth vertebrae were removed and reserved for the veneration of the faithful.

“Our Lady of Lourdes Miami is a reflection of Our Lady of Lourdes France,” said Msgr. Schwanger. “We have our own Hospitality of Miami, a group within the diocese that is associated with the Hospitality of Our Lady of Lourdes.”

These two organizations work together to organize two archdiocesan pilgrimages to Lourdes each year, in June and September. “Their service helps to make each pilgrimage a graceful encounter with the healing touch of Jesus through the intercession of his mother,” said Msgr. Schwanger said.

On the 11th of each month, Our Lady of Lourdes also hosts either a Eucharistic procession and blessing, or a candlelit Rosary procession, alternating every two months. In Lourdes, France, they take place daily.

“Sick people and their caregivers from across the diocese come to Lourdes, Miami, for treatment, the same way they would go to Lourdes, France. (Because) not all of us are able to travel to Lourdes, France,” said Msgr. Schwanger said. “Miami Hospitality would be happy to share its experience and help other dioceses set up their own organization to make annual pilgrimages.”

Visiting Saint Bernadette through her relics while they are in the United States is a rare opportunity.

“St. Bernadette continues to be a vehicle through which Mary points the way to her Son, Jesus Christ, through this tour of the relics,” Msgr. Schwanger. “It is an affirmation that the Lord cares for everyone and that everyone has the opportunity to be healed and, in turn, to bring healing and peace to the world. And don’t we all need healing in one way or another?

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