On one of our pilgrimages to Lourdes my husband, Dennis, and I were witness to the awesome power of God’s healing love and mercy towards a young boy who fought and cursed and scratched and howled blood-hurtling screams as he was led to the baths from a side entry by his Priest and Shrine attendants, his wailing mother following as the boy writhed and wrenched his body to spit at her.
The word ‘possession’ could be heard in several languages making its way through the crowd of pilgrims in line at the baths, as though a gossip chain had been discharged. But then something remarkable happened, as soon as the boy was out of sight, the Rosary, which had previously been quietly prayed in each one’s mother tongue, became one very loud sound as on the day of Pentecost.
It was an ear-deafening sound; a literal hurricane gale vocal storm ascending to heaven. It hushed again a few minutes later as the same young boy, perhaps 12 or 13 years of age, emerged from the baths smothering his mother with kisses, who in turn was smothering the poor Priest in kisses, as the Shrine attendants led them back out the side entry. A great cheer of praise and thanksgiving to God rose up from the pilgrims who then resumed the Rosary, quietly in their own language, as they waited in line for their turn to enter the baths.
The following day we saw a woman with a twisted body enter the baths in a wheelchair and walk out, unassisted. Again there was a great sound of praise from the Rosary praying pilgrims awaiting their turn at the baths.
These are not documented healings. There were no tests undergone verifying their ailments prior to entering the baths and no team of professional experts at the exit examining them to confirm their miracles. These were suffering children of God who simply came to ask His Mother if she would please intercede for them on their behalf.
I was suffering a painful, chronic illness at the time that made me hyper sensitive to cold and I had an over whelming fear of being immersed in the freezing bath waters. The healing miracle, for which my dear husband had brought me, didn’t happen in this place, at this time, but I was blessed with the ‘hot tub’ experience. I was also gifted with the ‘insta-dry’ phenomenon and was able to dress immediately without toweling off first. Even the hospital gown I wore into the bath was as dry as when I put it on.
I remember whispering a desperate, “Please help me” to the Mother whose image was before my eyes as I was gently leaned back into the miraculous healing waters. They had been freezing cold when I stepped into the basin but was as warm as my bath water back home as I became submerged.
The most remarkable thing about Lourdes to me is the attitude of the Shrine attendants. While there is a momentary burst of great jubilation over the simplest of gifts received there is also the impression that they expect nothing less to happen. It’s the kind of faith we are all called to. When I came up out of the waters I was weeping and telling them of the pleasant warmth I felt instead of the bitter cold I ought to have felt. “Loué soit Dieu! Loué soit la Mère de Dieu! they exclaimed with hugs rejoicing with me.
The question is always asked, “Does everyone receive healing at Lourdes?” And the answer is always, “Yes”. No one leaves this special, holy place without being changed, in some way, for the better. And everyone leaves with a story or two to tell.