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  • Writer's picturePatty Breen

The Time I Lied about a Marian Apparition

I caught your attention, didn’t I? ;)

To start, I was quite the imaginative child growing up. I wrote very detailed short stories that are probably floating somewhere around my mom's basement. I made up creative (weird sometimes) games I made my siblings play with, like the time we were homeless Russian orphans pre-imperial Russia. Between my love of books, history, and sensitive, big heart, I was an interesting child to say the least.

When I was around seven or eight, I saw the movie The Song of Bernadette, which relates to the feast we celebrate today - the Marian apparitions to a poor child named Bernadette in Lourdes, France (Our Lady of Lourdes).

Soon after seeing the movie, I “decided” I was going to pretend Mary was appearing to me. I knelt down with folded hands in front of the big oak tree, looked upwards, willing myself to see the Mother of God. I distinctly remember hearing cars drive by and thinking, “They will see me and know Mary is appearing to me. They will be amazed and grow in faith because of this.”

I went inside (after my knees fell asleep) and eagerly told my mom my wild tale. She listened, but quickly called me out for lying about such a thing.

Reading this perhaps sounds positively ridiculous. However, it speaks to the tender, innocent faith of a little child looking to experience the Divine.

One of the things that always struck me whenever the Mother of God appeared at different times in history, is how Mary always appeared to little children. Often they were poor or did not have much education. But they had the faith of a child; simple and humble.

This was the case with little Bernadette Soubirous, a weak 14 year old girl with asthma, who, on February 11, 1858 was just gathering firewood. In a small grotto near the city dump, she saw a beautiful lady dressed all in white, with a blue girdle and a golden rose over each foot. She continued to go back and only she could see this beautiful lady.

As word spread, people verbally harassed Bernadette. They thought she was insane or lying. Yet Bernadette never wavered in her story. The beautiful lady asked Bernadette to focus on prayer and repentance.

Finally on March 25, the beautiful lady told Bernadette who she was. She said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Unbeknownst to Bernadette, the Church had proclaimed the Marian dogma of the Immaculate Conception only four years earlier in 8154.

What can we as women in 2022 take from this story of Lourdes, Bernadette, and the Mother of God.

That the mighty work of God is achieved not through power, wealth, or greatness. But it is achieved through the humble, a teachable spirit, and simple child-like faith.

I do not recommend lying (ever!) about the Mother of God appearing to you. But I do encourage all of us, no matter our relationship with God or church, to have teachable spirits; that we might be brave, courageous women with simple faith.

Just like Bernadette.

And just like the Mother of God.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

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