LOURDES, France (CNS): Mary did not seek devotion from St Bernadette Soubirous and Catholics but instead sought devotion to Jesus and the Eucharist, Bishop Jacques Perrier of Tarbes and Lourdes said.
In the apparitions at the Massabielle grotto, Mary led St Bernadette to Jesus and today intercedes for pilgrims and leads them to Jesus, the bishop said at an outdoor international Mass in Lourdes on February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the Sick.
At the grotto in the Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes, a statue of Mary stands on the right side and the altar for the Eucharist is at the centre, he said, because the Eucharist is the centre of devotion.
“The mission of Lourdes is to be a school of prayer, a place where it is easy, natural to pray,” Bishop Perrier said.
Mary brought St Bernadette to Jesus, the bishop said, noting that during the apparitions Mary was preparing the young St Bernadette to receive her first Communion.
St Bernadette initially was not allowed to receive her first Communion because she did not know her catechism well enough.
The Lourdes jubilee year – which began December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and runs until this December 8 – marks the 150th anniversary of the Marian apparitions to St Bernadette.
Welcoming the estimated 50,000 pilgrims, Bishop Perrier said that no one was excluded at Lourdes.
Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI said in his February 10 Angelus address at the Vatican that the message of Lourdes reminds the faithful to pray and do penance.