On this day in 1858


From today’s online briefing courtesy of the New York Times – rare and reverent:

About six million pilgrims, many of them seeking to be healed of disease and pain, visit Lourdes, the site of the most popular Roman Catholic shrine in France, each year.

It’s where the 14-year-old Marie-Bernarde Soubirous, later canonized as St. Bernadette, said she saw the Virgin Mary appear in a grotto on this day in 1858.

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (a reference to the Virgin Mary) and the World Day of the Sick, a moment to focus on health care and human dignity.

Pope John Paul II came up with the idea of a day for the ailing after learning that he had Parkinson’s disease. He traveled to Lourdes on his final foreign trip, in 2004, less than a year before he died.

Pope Benedict XVI, acknowledging his own frailty, used this day to announce his retirement in 2013.

The church has recognized 69 miracles and thousands of cures at Lourdes, a small city in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The faithful say that the waters of its grotto have healing powers.

NYT Morning Briefing is published weekdays.

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