Marie Bernard Soubirous was born in a simple French peasant home on January 7, 1844. When she was fourteen years old, the Blessed Virgin appeared to her on eighteen different occasions between February and July of 1858. The Beautiful Lady instructed Bernadette to pray for sinners and do penance for them. On another occasion Our Lady told the child where to dig to find a spring; the water from this miraculous spring has been instrumental in effecting numerous cures, although according to scientists it possesses no natural healing property. Another time, when Bernadette asked her name, Mary replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception."

On July 4, 1866 Bernadette entered the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction of Nevers. She died on April 16, 1879. Pope Pius XI canonized her on December 8, 1933.

Those who are not able to go to Lourdes express their love for the Immaculate Mother of God and Saint Bernadette, and seek their powerful intercession, at home, by making the novena in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette. Each year, on the 11th of February, the Church celebrates a special feast commemorating the the apparitions of Lourdes, and it is in preparation for this Feast that the novena is held.

**As with all prayers, sermons, and teachings provided on Catholic Harbor, this novena predates the great Apostasy of Vatican II. All references to the Mass or devotions at Lourdes refer to the Church as it was in 1956, the year of publication.


First Day

Holy Immaculate Mother of God we have come to implore your help and to honor you during this Novena under your beautiful title of Our Lady of Lourdes. In preparation for your feast we want to persevere with you in prayer during the days of this Novena. Mary, we need your help and protecting care. In the spiritual and material struggle of life, in the thick of temptation, in the trying hours of worry and affliction, we need you to console and strengthen us.

During these days of special grace, therefore we want to enkindle anew our love for you and our devotion to you so that we may experience the blessings of your tender love.

Abide with us, dearest Mother during these days and draw us close to your Immaculate Heart. Keep us united to you in thought and affection. Allow no care or distraction to take our mind and heart from you for we want to spend these days with you in prayer.

Intercede for us with Christ your Divine Son and obtain for us the favors we ask in this Novena.

[Here mention your intentions.]

Saint Bernadette, humble child of Jesus and Mary, join with us in asking Jesus and Mary to bless us and to answer our prayers during these blessed days.

Concluding Prayers


Second Day

We have not here an abiding city, but seek one that is to come. Mary, this is the lesson we find so hard to learn. We know that one day this life, with all its temptations and all its hardships, will end. We realize, too, that Christ, your Divine Son, has promised a reward exceeding great to those who, with resignation to His Blessed Will, bear the difficulties of life.

But we are so weak! Too readily we succumb to temptation, too easily we give in to discouragement.

O, Blessed Lady, help us to be strong and to persevere in the love and friendship of God. Bolster up our wavering spirits whenever temptation threatens us; encourage us whenever things go wrong.

Lead us to Jesus, your Divine Son, and make known to Him our wants.

[Here mention your intentions.]

Saint Bernadette, you had my trials and difficulties to endure here on earth, But in your troubles you relied upon the assistance of Jesus and Mary. Help us also to have faith and confidence in Christ and His Blessed Mother, in all the trials and troubles of life.

Concluding Prayers


Third Day

With confidence, we have recourse to you, Blessed Lady of Lourdes, in our sincere desire to lead a life free from sin. Many times in the past, Christ in His mercy has pardoned us our sins, but many times we have fallen again and offended Him anew. It is sin that keeps us from becoming more perfect and Christlike, because sin injures the life of God's grace in our souls.

Blessed Mother, help us to avoid every willful occasion of sin and assist us in times of temptation. We want to be done with sin forever, so that we may live from day to day in the intimate love and friendship of Christ. May we learn to follow your example and rid our hearts of all sinful affections and thus become more securely attached to Jesus.

Mary, obtain for all poor sinners the grace of conversion, so that they may return to the blessed life of sanctifying grace.

And now, we entreat you once again to make known to your Divine Son the graces, both spiritual and material, of which we stand in need, and for which we are praying in this Novena.

[Here mention your intentions.]

Saint Bernadette, obedient child of Jesus and Mary, add your powerful and efficacious prayers to our humble and heartfelt petitions.

Concluding Prayers


Fourth Day

Sweet Lady of Lourdes, you were our Lord's humble handmaid. Though the most privileged of God's creatures, you were, nevertheless, the most humble. This virtue endeared you to Christ, Who loves those who are humble and bestows on them His greatest graces.

Our Savior not only exhorts, but commands, us to be humble. He warns us that He rejects the proud and gives His blessings to the humble.

We realize that we have every reason to be humble. All that we are and have, we owe to the goodness and mercy of God. To Him we are indebted for our life, for our talents and our possessions. We are further indebted to Him because of our sins.

Moreover, life is very short; life is very uncertain, and all things in this world quickly pass away. Why then should we be proud?

And yet, how difficult it is for us to be humble. We are so easily moved to envy and jealousy, resentment and even revenge, because we have not cultivated sufficiently the virtue of humility.

Our prayers, too, are less fervent and our reception of the sacraments is less fruitful when these acts are not performed with a truly humble spirit.

With a humble and contrite spirit, O Blessed Lady of Lourdes, we now ask the assistance of your intercession in seeking from Christ the answer to our petitions.

[Here mention your intentions.]

Humble child of God, Saint Bernadette, you resembled Mary, your heavenly Mother, in the practice of humility. Pray for us that we, too, may have the strength of will to be always truly humble.

Concluding Prayers


Fifth Day

Through you, O Blessed Lady of Lourdes, we want to thank Almighty God for the priceless gift of faith which He has bestowed upon us. We believe in Jesus and we accept all His divine teachings. But this wonderful gift is not the result of our own efforts or merits, but of God's generosity. Great, indeed, then is our privilege. We are truly God's elect.

"But to whom much is given, much will be required." God expects that we who know Jesus Christ should love and obey Him; that we who believe His doctrines should live by them. Our lives should be detached to a great extent from the things of earth and time and occupied with the things of Christ and eternity.

Mary, you were called blessed because you believed and lived by faith. Help us to follow in your footsteps. There is need of faith today when men are so material and when unbelief is threatening the security of the world. Do not permit us to be infected by this awful wave of infidelity.

Today we make a renewal of our belief in Jesus Christ, the Divine Son of God and the Savior of mankind. With Saint Peter, we say to Jesus: "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God."

Mary, obtain from your Son the blessed light of faith for all who are living in the dismal darkness of unbelief or in the bewildering shadows of doubt and uncertainty. Help them to see and recognize Jesus and to accept His saving doctrine.

With faith and confidence in the power of your intercessions, we once again recommend to you our needs and beg you to present them to your Divine Son.

[Here mention your intentions.]

Saint Bernadette, you whose faith was so simple and so strong, pray for us that our faith may never waver. Intercede for us with Our Lord Whom you see now face to face.

Concluding Prayers


Sixth Day

"Behold the handmaid of the Lord." These words of yours, O Blessed Lady of Lourdes, tell us the secret of your holy life. They express your complete submission to the divine will of God. You did not think of yourself, but only of God's will. All your life His will was your chief concern.

Holiness, we know, is a matter of the will, not of feelings. It consists in keeping our wills, subject and united to the will of Almighty God.

This means obedience on our part at all times to the Commandments of God. It means accepting with patient resignation, success or failure; sickness or health; joy or sorrow. There is no other path to a holy life.

But so often we find it difficult, O Blessed Mother, to walk in this way of resignation. Our poor human nature is sometimes on the point of rebelling. At such times especially, we need your encouragement and help.

Obtain for us, therefore, the strength of will to be humble and submissive at all times and in all circumstances of our earthly life.

"Be it done unto me according to Thy word." Mary, this was your attitude and your prayer, not only when God bestowed on you His favors, but also when He sent you His crosses. May such be our attitude and our prayer in accepting all things for God.

Resigned to whatever may be God's will in our regard we now entreat you, O Virgin Mother, to obtain for us from Jesus the objects of our requests.

[Here mention your intentions.]

Saint Bernadette, like Mary, your chief desire was to do the will of God. By obedience to His holy will in little things, as well as in those of importance, you reached the heights of holiness. Assist us by your prayers to walk in this way which leads to true sanctity.

Concluding Prayers


Seventh Day

"I am the Immaculate Conception." Immaculate Virgin Mary, you were enriched with all the treasures of divine grace. Of all human creatures you alone were preserved free from the stain of original sin. And during the course of your life no actual sin ever tarnished the beauty of your soul.

Not only was your soul free from sin; but it was also radiant with all the splendor of sanctifying grace from the moment of its existence.

Into our souls also this glorious life of sanctifying grace was infused on the day of our Baptism. But through neglect of prayer and the sacraments we have hindered its growth and development and by our sins we have weakened, or worse still, destroyed it.

O Immaculate Mother, awaken in our souls a spirit of true contrition for all the sins of our life. Too long have we abused this divine life of sanctifying grace.

Today we renew our baptismal promises to renounce Satan: his work and his pomps. We shall strive in the future to avoid every willful sin and all near occasions of sin.

Teach us, Mary, to realize and appreciate what a wonderful treasure is ours in the possession of sanctifying grace which makes us sharers in the very life of Christ. May no temptation be ever so strong that it will cause us to lose this divine life or mar its beauty by the commission of sin.

Immaculate Virgin, beautiful Lady of Lourdes, make known again to Jesus all the temporal and spiritual needs of us poor sinners.

[Here mention your intentions.]

Saint Bernadette, faithful imitator of the Immaculate Virgin, help us to be pure in thought, in word and in deed.

Concluding Prayers


Eight Day

Each year, O Blessed Lady, thousands Masses are offered and a million pilgrims honor Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament at your wonderful shrine of Lourdes. Every day at Lourdes Jesus is carried in solemn procession among the sick and infirm, some of whom He cures, all of whom He blesses. All alike sing out His divine praises.

How beautiful and fitting that Jesus should be thus honored at the hallowed shrine of His Blessed Mother. Mary, we know that this is your own wish, for you told little Bernadette that you wanted a Basilica erected on this spot. Your most cherished desire is to draw souls closer to Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

Mary, you who rejoice in the celebration of so many Masses each day at Lourdes, give us a greater love and a keener appreciation of the Mass. We must bring ourselves to realize that, through the Mass, we give the greatest possible honor to God and to you; and, in the Mass, we possess the best and surest means of sanctification.

Teach us also to be faithful in visiting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, Christ was the object of your thoughts and affections during all the happy years you dwelt with Him at Nazareth. The same Christ now dwells in our midst. May we be thoughtful enough to spend at least a few minutes with Him every day. Nothing will please you more than to see us devoted to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

Again, O Virgin Mary, we call on you to intercede for us with Jesus that He may deign to answer our prayers.

[Here mention your intentions.]

Saint Bernadette, many years of your life were spent in loving and serving Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Encourage us by the assistance of your prayers to be true lovers of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

Concluding Prayers


Ninth Day

Dear Lady of Lourdes, today we bring to a close the Novena in your honor. The past nine days of prayer have been a source of happiness and consolation for us all. It has been a joy for us to come each day to pay our humble tribute of love and devotion to Jesus, you His Blessed Mother, and to Saint Bernadette. We feel strengthened and improved spiritually as a result of these days of prayer.

But Mary, we want the graces and blessings of this Novena to continue with us in the future. We want to keep our love and devotion fervent and strong in the weeks and months to come. But, when we think of our weakness and instability, we are frightened. On this last day of the Novena, therefore, we beg of you with all our heart to protect us and help us to persevere in loving Jesus, and you, His Immaculate Mother. When temptation begins to take hold on us and we begin to waver in our fidelity, then come quickly to our assistance.

Blessed Lady, we have implored the help of your powerful intercession every day during this Novena. Now, at its conclusion, we again make known to you our needs.

[Here mention your intentions.]

We ask you to continue to plead for us before the throne of your Divine Son. With confidence, we leave our petitions in your keeping, for we know that no one ever sought your aid in vain.

Saint Bernadette, accompany us during life with the protection and assistance of your prayers, May we learn from you to be humble and pure and obedient always to God's holy will.

Concluding Prayers


Apparition at Lourdes
by Rev. C. F. Donovan, 1925

A little more than three years after the solemn definition, as an article of faith, of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception by our Holy Father, Pope Pius the ninth, on the eleventh day of February, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared for the first time in the Grotto of Massabielle, near the little village of Lourdes, situated in the Pyrenian region of southern France, to a simple, humble and pious child, a peasant girl of fourteen, named Bernadette Soubirous.

Our Lady was clad in luminous white. Her white veil fell to her feet, on each of which shone a golden rose. She wore no crown or jewel of any sort. A broad sash-like girdle of sky-blue encircled her waist. From her hands, joined as in prayer, hung a great rosary of milk-white beads strung on a chain of gold.

Smiling on the child, who was saying her beads, the Queen of Heaven asked her to come to the Grotto each day for fourteen days. Bernadette obeyed, although many obstacles were placed in her way by the temporal authorities of Lourdes. She looked, time and again on the "Beautiful Lady," as she called Mary Immaculate, and Our Lady enjoined her to tell the parish priest of Lourdes that she wished a church to be built near the place where she appeared, so that the faithful might come there in pilgrimage. As evidence for all the world, Our Lady caused a fountain to flow from the barren rock of the Grotto. And she revealed to the little girl, who did not understand the words until they were explained to her by the saintly Father Peyramale, the priest of Lourdes, that she was the Immaculate Conception. In spite of the jibes and persecutions of the atheistical civic authorities, the child's story was believed.

The truth prevailed--fortified as it was by the miraculous cures which immediately began to take place at the Grotto, where men, women and children afflicted with terrible diseases, some of them at the very point of death, were made perfectly sound and well through the use of the water from Our Lady's fountain. After the most thorough-going investigation, the Church sustained Bernadette, declaring that it was indeed the Immaculate Mother of God who appeared to the child, and authorizing the devotion of Our Lady of Lourdes. Two glorious sanctuaries were erected in obedience to Our Lady's will, and Lourdes has attracted for over sixty years, innumerable pilgrims, among whom not a few go to ask and often receive the happiness of health at the feet of Mary. For her constant and merciful intention to benefit sufferers who trust in her has been made manifest at Lourdes since 1858, by means of hundreds upon hundreds of miraculous cures.

Without seeking to pry into the motives of Divine Providence, the faithful Catholic is entitled to believe that God's purpose, in having Most Holy Mary appear to Bernadette and give the world the miraculous fountain, was to show His approval of men's loving devotion to Mary conceived without sin, and to teach us all to come to Him through Mary.