On this day, more than one hundred and fifty years ago, a 14 year-old girl, Bernadette Soubirous, saw Our Lady in a cave on the banks of the River Gave, near Lourdes in southern France.
Between 11 February and 16 July 1858, Bernadette was to experience a total of 18 apparitions. The "young and beautiful lady" made various requests. One day she revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception.
Later she asked for a chapel to be built nearby and told the girl to drink from a fountain in the grotto. No fountain was to be seen, but when Bernadette dug with her hands in the ground, a spring began to flow. Many healings, both physical and spiritual, have been since recorded at the shrine, though the water contains no curative property that science can identify. Lourdes is now the greatest shrine of Our Lady in the world.
For more information, live webcam and documentary films, visit the official Lourdes website at: www.lourdes-france.org/
See the award-winning 1943 film A Song of Bernadette: