The story of Lourdes, for adults and for kids

The feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes (which we observe tomorrow) is one that speaks to me on numerous levels.  This is partly because I’m a sucker for anything French, and partly because I have been fortunate enough to visit the grotto and see the apparition site for myself.  Mostly, it’s because that visit to Lourdes in 2002 was the first big step on my journey into knowing and loving Mary.  It was Lourdes — specifically, a folk art statue that I bought in a souvenir shop there — that helped me begin to see Mary as a woman in three dimensions,  a woman with guts and courage and strength … but that’s a story  for another time.

Today, I wanted to share two of my favorite books about Lourdes.   One is Lourdes: Font of Faith, Hope, and Charity by Elizabeth Ficocelli.   It’s the best “Lourdes overview” I’ve found, one that covers the history of the apparitions and explains how Lourdes became the place of pilgrimage and healing that it is today.  Ficocelli also looks at the spiritual fruits of Lourdes — the lives that this place has changed, the generosity of the many volunteers who assist the sick at the grotto, and the relevance of Lourdes one hundred and fifty years later.  It’s highly readable and is a great book both for the “Lourdes beginner” as well as for those who know the story but want to revisit it and find new inspiration.

For the younger set, there’s the lovely storybook Bernadette:The Little Girl from Lourdes, by Sophie Maraval-Hutin (translated by Janet Chevrier) and illustrated by Adeline Avril.   What I love about this book is its approachability.  I’ve always had a bit of a problem with saint books that have gruesome and/or spooky pictures, because as a kid they used to terrify me, thus beginning a very long period of my life in which I wanted to stay as far away from the saints as I possibly could.  But this book has charming, inviting illustrations that make the Lourdes story wonderfully accessible to kids.  It’s utterly delightful.

Before I go, here’s a little serenade from the iconic Andy Williams.  We all know him for “Moon River” and his fabulous Christmas carols, but did you know that he also recorded a song about Lourdes?  I didn’t … but I’m glad I do now.

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