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Jan 03 - 05, 2013 Bamenda:Our Lady of Lourdes College Golden Jubilee Celebrations.

Who is Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes? Captivating story


Written by The PRO of LESA USA Alumnae, Mrs Rosemary Ngehsab Atanga

Hello Friends and family,
As we look forward to the Golden Jubilee of our alma mater Our Lady Of Lourdes, I am so excited not only because this is a milestone but most of all because, we all went to a prestigious institution and in an effort to keep you all informed, it will be worthwhile to share some important information about the Name Our Lady.
Do you have a wife who went to Our Lady of Lourdes?
Do yo have a friend who went to our Lady of Lourdes?
Do you have a sister who went to Our Lady of Lourdes?
Do you know the feast day Of Our Lady of Lourdes?
Do you know anything about Our Lady of Lourdes or it is just a name?
The National PRO and Myself have a themed month as we look forward to celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Lourdes college. It will be a failure on our part as Lourdes Ex students if we do not share historic information about the name because we  have enjoyed your support for ages and we know you will never stop supporting us and I don't want you all to associate our Name or alma mater with parties only. There is much more to learn about "Our Lady" especially if you are not a Catholic.

Continue to read full story below!

We spent the early part of January praying for 21 days. Praise the Lord and thank God for our sister Jackie Ngomesia who led a 21 day fast coupled with prayers. Today is the feast of Saint Brigid of Ireland who was one of the most remarkable women of her times, and despite the numerous legendary, extravagant, and even fantastic miracles attributed to her, there is no doubt that her extraordinary spirituality, boundless charity, and compassion for those in distress were real. She died at Kildare on February 1. Let us use this month to reflect on "The Lady" who appeared to Saint Bernadette and whose feast we sometimes forget. To Lourdes Ex students who dont have access to any of our fora or their family members, please make sure you share this important read. How much do you know about the name of Our Alma mater Our Lady of Lourdes? Please read when you are more relaxed and see how you can live a purposeful life. Enjoy!!

In the middle of the nineteenth century, Lourdes was a small garrison town of four or five thousand inhabitants, situated in the foothills of the Pyrénées on the River Gave. It had a castle fortress, the sign of a fighting past [1], and for its size was up-to-date and progressive with the bulk of the population consisting of agricultural workers and quarrymen, and in the main practising Catholics.
Bernadette Soubirous was the eldest of five children [2] of hard-working parents who had fallen on hard times, and from operating a successful mill had been reduced to living with their family in one small room called the Cachot, which can still be seen today. Bernadette could hardly read or write, and suffered several childhood illnesses leaving her weak and asthmatic, and small for her age. From a very early age though, she showed signs of having immense faith in God, and when she was told she was stupid because she was unable to learn her Catechism, she whispered in a characteristic way that: ’At least she would always know how to love the good God. She was a simple girl who worked partly in the house and partly, when with her aunt in Bartrès a village 4 miles from Lourdes, in the fields where her special task was to watch the sheep.
On Thursday 11th February 1858(Lourdes Feast day) when she was fourteen years old, together with her sister Marie-Toinette and a friend Jeanne, Bernadette left the Cachot to collect firewood at the foot of a hill called Massabielle, meaning old rock, where there was a small cave or grotto where cattle often sheltered.
Marie-Toinette and Jeanne kicked off their wooden shoes and waded across the little stream in search of dead wood, leaving Bernadette hesitating because of the cold. Just as she was removing her stockings, she heard what sounded like a strong wind and, as she looked toward the Grotto, she noticed that the vegetation growing beneath the higher opening was tossing, though nothing else moved. To her amazement she saw a figure in the opening – a Lady of small stature and incomparable beauty. The Lady was surrounded by light and inclined her head graciously as if inviting Bernadette to approach. She put out her hands too, a little away from her body, and on her right arm could be seen a rosary with large white beads on what seemed a golden chain. Bernadette felt frightened, and yet she did not want to run away. She was fascinated, experiencing a mysterious attraction and quite naturally took out her rosary and started to recite the prayers. The vision lasted about a quarter of an hour and, as Bernadette finished the rosary prayers, quite suddenly the Lady disappeared.
The Fisrt Apparition
On the way home, Bernadette told Marie-Toinette what she had seen, and although her sister promised secrecy, her sister did not keep her secret and that evening the Soubirous parents entered into what was to become an extremely vexing and puzzling period of their lives with much anguish to follow.
This vision was to be the first of eighteen apparitions over the next few weeks, frequently with many people in attendance out of curiosity, as by now the story of the Lady was the talking point of everyone in Lourdes. During one of these visions, Bernadette was asked by the Lady to drink at the spring and wash in the water, although there was no spring to be seen. Bernadette scratched away at the surface of the earth, and found water rising, which she was able to drink. Soon this spring was yielding 27,000 gallons of water a day, which has been maintained ever since even in times of drought. The spring has been channelled into a reservoir from which the Baths are filled and there are 20 drinking fountain heads. The extraordinary quality of this water is that it never becomes contaminated and can be kept for years, even in an ordinary plastic bottle.
During her seventh appearance, the Lady instructed Bernadette to ask the Priests to build a Chapel by the Grotto for people to process there, and this is at the heart of Lourdes today. All the appearances held the same prayerful characteristics, and at the fifteenth appearance the Lady disclosed herself as the Immaculate Conception. She appeared only three times more to Bernadette, but had nothing more to say.
In spite of enormous opposition from the Town and Church elders of the time, with Bernadette being scrutinised by all and sundry, eventually the Bishop of Tarbes declared the Apparitions as genuine, and from there the whole concept of Lourdes as it is today was developed.

Franz Werfel points out that death extinguishes a human face in the twinkling of an eye, but death illuminated the face of Bernadette.
It is not always realised by those who visit Lourdes that Bernadette's body remains incorrupt and is laid in a glass reliquary in the Convent of St Gildarde in Nevers, France, where it can be seen today.
My personal views.
What does the above story mean to you as Lourdes Ex Students, friend, husband, sister, etc and what can you change about your life to reflect what you have just read? The picture of her dead body captured my heart. Take a closer look and see the peace which is a reflection of her life.  This is the weight we carry as Our Lady of Lourdes Ex students. I remember bumping into a B'da meeting last year and the president reminded the Bamenda Lesans to think about what it means to belong to a Mother branch and how they want to be perceived? Don't you all agree, we should have some air of humility, simplity and dignity to be associated with the name our Lady?
Please think of the Lady, Immaculate conception and reflect on the big picture? We have been so carried away by our own personal glamour, ego, hate, greed, self agrandizement, etc and forgotten the basics of what matters.
Who are we again? I don't know about you but I did learn something and I want to IMITATE her as much as possible.
If you have any questions about Our Lady of Lourdes, please contact me and stay tuned as you learn more about our Institution.
God bless.

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