Thursday, April 16, 2015

Saint April 17 : St. Stephen Harding : Abbot of Citeaux - Confessor

St. Stephen Harding
CONFESSOR
Feast: April 17

Information:
Feast Day:April 17
Born:Dorset, England
Died:28 March 1134
Major Shrine:Church of St. Stephen Harding in Apátistvánfalva, Hungary, district of Szentgotthárd.
Confessor, the third Abbot of Citeaux, was born at Sherborne in Dorsetshire, England, about the middle of the eleventh century; died 28 March, 1134. He received his early education in the monastery of Sherborne and afterwards studied in Paris and Rome. On returning from the latter city he stopped at the monastery of Molesme and, being much impressed by the holiness of St. Robert, the abbot, joined that community. Here he practised great austerities, became one of St. Robert's chief supporters and was one of the band of twenty-one monks who, by authority of Hugh, Archbishop of Lyons, retired to Citeaux to institute a reform in the new foundation there. When St. Robert was recalled to Molesme (1099), Stephen became prior of Citeaux under Alberic, the new abbot. On Alberic's death (1110) Stephen, who was absent from the monastery at the time, was elected abbot. The number of monks was now very reduced, as no new members had come to fill the places of those who had died. Stephen, however, insisted on retaining the strict observance originally instituted and, having offended the Duke of Burgundy, Citeau's great patron, by forbidding him or his family to enter the cloister, was even forced to beg alms from door to door. It seemed as if the foundation were doomed to die out when (1112) St. Bernard with thirty companions joined the community. This proved the beginning of extraordinary prosperity. The next year Stephen founded his first colony at La Ferte, and before is death he had established thirteen monasteries in all. His powers as an organizer were exceptional, he instituted the system of general chapters and regular visitations and, to ensure uniformity in all his foundations, drew up the famous "Charter of Charity" or collection of statues for the government of all monasteries united to Citeaux, which was approved by Pope Callistus II in 1119 (see CISTERCIANS). In 1133 Stephen, being now old, infirm, and almost blind, resigned the post of abbot, designating as his successor Robert de Monte, who was accordingly elected by the monks. The saint's choice, however, proved unfortunate and the new abbot only held office for two years. Stephen was buried in the tomb of Alberic, his predecessor, in the cloister of Citeaux. In the Roman calendar his feast is 17 April, but the Cistercians themselves keep it on 15 July, with an octave, regarding him as the true founder of the order. Besides the "Carta Caritatis" he is commonly credited with the authorship of the "Exordium Cisterciencis cenobii", which however may not be his. Two of his sermons are preserved and also two letters (Nos. 45 and 49) in the "Epp. S. Bernardi".


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/S/ststephenharding.asp#ixzz1sJOGxPhx

Latest News #Vatican Information and #PopeFrancis


16-04-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 072 

Summary
- May the Church in Kenya be an instrument of reconciliation, justice and peace
- The Pope to travel to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay in July
- Press Release on the Implementation of the C.D.F. Doctrinal Assessment and Mandate of April 2012
- Presentation of the Annuarium Pontificium
- Cardinal Montenegro to take possession of his titular church
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
- General audience: the complementarity between man and woman
- Pope's telegram for the death of Cardinal Roberto Tucci, S.J.
- Ninth meeting of the Council of Cardinals
- Other Pontifical Acts
May the Church in Kenya be an instrument of reconciliation, justice and peace
Vatican City, 16 April 2015 (VIS) – This morning the prelates of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops were received in audience by Pope Francis at the end of their “ad Limina” visit. In the written discourse he handed to them, the Holy Father writes that for many of them this visit to Rome will recall the time spent in the Italian capital during their preparation for ordination to the priesthood. “The many seminarians studying in this city, like the numerous seminarians in your own country, are an eloquent sign of God’s goodness to the universal Church and to your dioceses”.
“While the seeds of a priestly vocation are sown long before a man arrives at the seminary, first in the heart of the family”, he notes, “it pertains to seminary formators to nurture the growth of these vocations. For this reason, it is imperative that seminarians’ goodwill and earnest desires be met with a formation that is humanly sound, spiritually deep, intellectually rich, and pastorally diverse. I am aware of the challenges which this entails, and I encourage you to strengthen your efforts, individually within your Dioceses and collectively in your Episcopal Conference, so that the good work which the Lord is accomplishing in your candidates for priestly Orders will be brought to completion”.
“In this Year of Consecrated Life, my heart is also close to the men and women religious who have renounced the world for the sake of the kingdom thus bringing many blessings to the Church and society in Kenya. … The united and selfless efforts of many Catholics in Kenya are a beautiful witness and example for the country. In so many ways, the Church is called to offer hope to the broader culture, a hope based on her unstinting witness to the newness of life promised by Christ in the Gospel. In this regard, without wishing to interfere in temporal affairs, the Church must insist, especially to those who are in positions of leadership and power, on those moral principles which promote the common good and the building up of society as a whole. In the fulfilment of her apostolic mission, the Church must take a prophetic stand in defence of the poor and against all corruption and abuse of power. She must do so, in the first place, by example. … In a particular way, I wish to offer a word of appreciation to the many humble and dedicated workers in Church-run institutions throughout your country, whose daily activities bring spiritual and material benefit to countless people. The Church has contributed, and continues to contribute, to all of Kenya through a diverse array of schools, institutes, universities, clinics, hospitals, homes for the sick and dying, orphanages and social agencies”.
Pope Francis goes on to emphasise that “the Church in Kenya must always be true to her mission as an instrument of reconciliation, justice and peace. In fidelity to the entire patrimony of the faith and moral teaching of the Church, may you strengthen your commitment to working with Christian and non-Christian leaders alike, in promoting peace and justice in your country through dialogue, fraternity and friendship. In this way you will be able to offer a more unified and courageous denunciation of all violence, especially that committed in the name of God. This will bring deeper reassurance and solace to all your fellow citizens”. He affirms, “With you, I pray for all those who have been killed by acts of terror or ethnic or tribal hostilities in Kenya as well as other areas of the continent. I think most especially of the men and women killed at Garissa University College on Good Friday. May their souls rest in peace and their loved ones be consoled, and may those who commit such brutality come to their senses and seek mercy”.
The Pope encourages the prelates in their pastoral care for the family, and declares his conviction that as the Church prepares for the Ordinary Synod dedicated to the pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation “you will continue to assist and strengthen all those families who are struggling because of broken marriages, infidelity, addiction or violence”, and asks them to “intensify the Church’s ministry to youth, forming them to be disciples capable of making permanent and life-giving commitments – whether to a spouse in marriage, or to the Lord in the priesthood or religious life”.
Finally, he prays with them the the forthcoming Jubilee of Mercy may be “a time of great forgiveness, healing, conversion, and grace for the entire Church in Kenya” and that, “touched by Christ’s infinite mercy, may all the faithful be signs of the reconciliation, justice and peace that God wills for your country, and indeed, all of Africa”.
The Pope to travel to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay in July
Vatican City, 16 April 2015 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., today declared that Pope Francis, accepting the invitation offered by the respective Heads of State and bishops of these countries, will make an apostolic trip to Ecuador, from 6 to 8 July, Bolivia from 8 to 10 July, and Paraguay, from 10 to 12 of the same month. The programme for the trip will be published shortly.
Press Release on the Implementation of the C.D.F. Doctrinal Assessment and Mandate of April 2012
Vatican City, 16 April 2015 (VIS) - Officials of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (C.D.F.), Archbishop Peter Sartain and officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (L.C.W.R.) met April 16. Archbishop Sartain and L.C.W.R. officers presented a joint report (attached) on the implementation of the C.D.F. Doctrinal Assessment and Mandate of April 2012. The joint report outlines the manner in which the implementation of the Mandate has been accomplished. The Congregation accepted the joint report, marking the conclusion of the Doctrinal Assessment of L.C.W.R. Present for the April 16 meeting were His Eminence Gerhard Cardinal Muller, Archbishop Peter Sartain, Sr. Carol Zinn, S.S.J., Sr. Marcia Allen, C.S.J., Sr. Joan Marie Steadman, C.S.C., and Sr. Janet Mock, C.S.J., and other officials of CDF.
During the meeting, Archbishop Sartain and L.C.W.R. officers outlined the process undertaken by the Bishop Delegates and L.C.W.R. over the past three years, noting the spirit of cooperation among participants throughout the sensitive process. Cardinal Muller offered his thoughts on the Doctrinal Assessment as well as the Mandate and its completion. He expressed gratitude to those present for their willing participation in this important and delicate work and extended thanks to others who had participated, especially Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki, and the past officers and executive directors of L.C.W.R.
Following the meeting, Cardinal Muller said: “At the conclusion of this process, the Congregation is confident that L.C.W.R. has made clear its mission to support its member Institutes by fostering a vision of religious life that is centred on the person of Jesus Christ and is rooted in the tradition of the Church. It is this vision that makes religious women and men radical witnesses to the Gospel, and, therefore, is essential for the flourishing of religious life in the Church”.
Sr. Sharon Holland, IHM,President of L.C.W.R., was unable to be present for the meeting but commented, “We are pleased at the completion of the Mandate, which involved long and challenging exchanges of our understandings of and perspectives on critical matters of Religious Life and its practice. Through these exchanges, conducted always in a spirit of prayer and mutual respect, we were brought to deeper understandings of one another’s experiences, roles, responsibilities, and hopes for the Church and the people it serves. We learned that what we hold in common is much greater than any of our differences”.
Archbishop Sartain added, “Over the past several years, I have had the honour of working with L.C.W.R. officers and meeting a large number of L.C.W.R. members through the implementation of the Mandate. Our work included the revision of L.C.W.R. Statutes;review of L.C.W.R. publications, programs and speakers; and discussion of a wide range of issues raised by the Doctrinal Assessment, L.C.W.R., and the Bishop Delegates.The assistance of C.D.F. officials was essential to the great progress we made. Our work together was undertaken in an atmosphere of love for the Church and profound respect for the critical place of religious lifein the United States, and the very fact of such substantive dialogue between bishops and religious women has been mutually beneficial and a blessing from the Lord. As we state in our joint final report, ‘The commitment of L.C.W.R. leadership to its crucial role in service to the mission and membership of the Conference will continue to guide and strengthen L.C.W.R.'s witness to the great vocation of Religious Life, to its sure foundation in Christ, and to ecclesial communion'. The other two Bishop Delegates and I are grateful for the opportunity to be involved in such a fruitful dialogue.”
Presentation of the Annuarium Pontificium
Vatican City, 16 April 2015 (VIS) – The Annuarium Pontificium 2015 and the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae 2013 have been issued this morning. The former reveals some new aspects of the life of the Church that have emerged between February 2014 and February 2015, and the latter illustrates the changes that took place in 2013.
The statistics referring to the year 2013, show the dynamics of the Catholic Church in the world's 2,989 ecclesiastical circumscriptions. It may be seen that in this period one diocese and two eparchies have been elevated to the level of metropolitan sees; three new episcopal sees, three eparchies and one archiepiscopal exarchate have been erected; one territorial prelature has been elevated to a diocese, and one apostolic prefecture to an apostolic vicariate.
Since 2005, the number of Catholics worldwide has increased from 1,115 million to 1,254 million, an increase of 139 million faithful. During the last two years, the presence of baptised Catholics in the world has increased from 17.3% to 17.7%.
There has been a 34% increase in Catholics in Africa, which has experienced a population increase of 1.9% between 2005 and 2013. The increase of Catholics in Asia (3.2% in 2013, compared to 2.9% in 2005) has been higher than that of population growth in Asia. In America Catholics continue to represent 63% of a growing population. In Europe, where the population is stagnant, there has been a slight increase in the number of baptised faithful in recent years. The percentage of baptised Catholics in Oceania remains stable although in a declining population.
From 2012 to 2013 the number of bishops has increased by 40 from 5,133 to 5,173. In North America and Oceania there has been a reduction of 6 and 5 bishops respectively, in contrast to an increase of 23 in the rest of the American continent, 5 in Africa, 14 in Asia and 9 in Europe.
The number of priests, diocesan and religious, increased from 414,313 in 2012 to 415,348 in 2013.
Candidates to the priesthood – diocesan and religious – dropped from 120,616 in 2011 to 118,251 in 2013 (-2%). An increase of 1.5% is recorded in Africa, compared to a decrease of 0.5% in Asia, 3.6% in Europe and 5.2% in North America.
The number of permanent deacons continues to grow well, passing from 33,391 in 2005 to 43,000 in 2013. They are present in North America and Europe in particular (96.7%), with the remaining 2.4% distributed between Africa, Asia and Oceania.
The number of professed religious other than priests has grown by 1%, from 54,708 in 2005 to 55,000 in 2013. They have increased in number in Africa by 6% and Asia by 30%, and decreased in America (2,8%), Europe (10.9%) and Oceania (2%). The significant reduction in women religious is affirmed: currently 693,575 compared to 760,529 in 2005: -18.3% in Europe, -17.1 % in Oceania, and -15.5 in America. However, an increase of 18% in Africa and 10% in Asia is recorded.
Cardinal Montenegro to take possession of his titular church
Vatican City, 16 April 2015 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that on Sunday, 19 April at 11.30 a.m., Cardinal Francesco Montenegro, archbishop of Agrigento, Italy, will take possession of the title of Santi Andrea e Gregorio al Monte Celio (Piazza San Gregorio, 1).
Audiences
Vatican City, 16 April 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Twenty-seven prelates of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, on their “ad Limina” visit:
- Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth of Kisumu;
- Bishop Norman King'oo Wambua of Bungoma;
- Bishop Cornelius Kipng'eno Arap Korir of Eldoret;
- Bishop Philip A. Anyolo of Homa Bay;
- Bishop Joseph Obanyi Sagwe of Kakamega;
- Bishop Joseph Mairura Okemwa of Kisii;
- Bishop Maurice Anthony Crowley, S.P.S., of Kitale;
- Bishop Dominic Kimengich of Lodwar;
- Archbishop Martin Musonde Kivuva of Mombasa;
- Bishop Paul Darmanin, O.F.M. Cap., of Garissa, with his coadjutor, Bishop Joseph Alessandro;
- Bishop Emanuel Barbara, O.F.M. Cap., of Malindi;
Cardinal John Njue, archbishop of Nairobi;
- Bishop Emanuel Okombo Wandera of Kericho;
- Bishop Anthony Muheria of Kitui;
- Bishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of Nakuru;
- Bishop John Oballa Owaa of Ngong;
- Archbishop Peter J. Kairo of Nyeri;
- Bishop Paul Kariuki Njiru of Embu;
- Bishop Virgilio Pante of Maralal;
- Bishop Peter Kihara Kariuki, I.M.C., of Marsabit;
- Bishop Salesius Mugambi of Meru;
- Bishop James Maria Wainaina Kungu of Muranga;
- Bishop Joseph Mbatia of Nyahururu, with Bishop emeritus Luigi Paiaro;
- Bishop Alfred Kipkoech Arap Rotich, military ordinary;
- Bishop Anthony Ireri Mukobo, I.M.C., apostolic vicar of Isiolo.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 16 April 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:
- appointed Msgr. Werner Freistetter as military ordinary of Austria (priests 12, permanent deacons 3, religious 4), Austria. The bishop-elect was born in Linz, Austria in 1953 and was ordained a priest in 1979. He studied theology in Vienna and in Rome at the Germanic-Hungarian College, and has held a number of pastoral roles, including parish vicar and parish priest in Vienna, assistant at the Institute of Ethical and Social Sciences at the Catholic Faculty of the University of Vienna, collaborator in the Pontifical Council for Culture, and member of the Holy See Representation at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (O.S.C.E.). He is currently director of the Institut fur Religion und Friede and episcopal vicar of the Austrian Military Ordinariate, and spiritual assistant of the Catholic International Military Apostolate. He succeeds Bishop Christian Werner, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same military ordinary in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
- appointed Msgr. Wilhelm Krautwaschl as bishop of Graz-Seckau (area 16,401, population 1,210,971, Catholics 853,594, priests 449, permanent deacons 69, religious 722), Austria. The bishop-elect was born in Gleisdorf, Austria in 1963 and was ordained a priest in 1990. He holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Graz, and has served as deputy priest and parish priest in numerous parishes in the diocese of Graz-Seckau, and as dean of the deanery of Bruck an der Mur. He is currently rector of the seminary of Graz and responsible for vocational pastoral ministry, and judge at the diocesan tribunal.
15-04-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 071 
General audience: the complementarity between man and woman
Vatican City, 15 April 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the family by dedicating this morning's general audience to the difference and complementarity between man and woman, recalling first of all that the Book of Genesis insists that both are the image and semblance of God. “Not only man as such, not only woman as such, but rather man and woman, as a couple, are the image of God. The difference between them is not a question of contrast or subordination, but instead of communion and generation, always in the image and semblance of God”.
“Experience teaches us that for the human being to know him- or herself well and to grow harmoniously, there is a need for reciprocity between man and woman”, said the Pope to the thirty thousand faithful present in St. Peter's Square. “When this does not happen, we see the consequences. We are made to listen to each other and to help each other. We can say that, without mutual enrichment in this relationship – in terms of thought and action, in personal relationships and in work, and also in faith – the two cannot even fully understand what it means to be a man and a woman”.
“Modern and contemporary culture has opened up new spaces, new freedoms and new depths for the enrichment and understanding of this difference. But it has also introduced many doubts and much scepticism. I wonder, for example, if so-called gender theory is not an expression of frustration and resignation, that aims to cancel out sexual difference as it is no longer able to face it. Yes, we run the risk of taking step backwards. Indeed, the removal of difference is the problem, not the solution. To solve their problems in relating to each other, men and women must instead speak more, listen more, know each other better, value each other more. They must treat each other with respect and cooperate in friendship. With these human bases, supported by God's grace, it is possible to plan a lifelong matrimonial and family union. The marriage and family bond is a serious matter for all, not only for believers. I would like to encourage intellectuals not to ignore this theme, as if it were secondary to our efforts to promote a freer and more just society”.
“God has entrusted the earth to the alliance between man and woman; its failure makes our emotional life arid and obscures the heaven of hope. The signs are already worrying, and we can see them. I would like to indicate due points, among many, that I believe must concern us with greater urgency”.
“Undoubtedly we must do far more in favour of women, if we want to strengthen to the reciprocity between men and women. Indeed, it is necessary for a woman not only to be listened to, but also for her voice to carry real weight, recognised authority, in society and in the Church. The way in which Jesus Himself regarded women, in a context that was far less favourable than our own, casts a powerful light illuminating a road that takes us far, on which we have travelled only a short distance. It is a road we must travel with more creativity and boldness”.
He added, “a second point relates to the theme of man and woman created in God's image. I wonder if the crisis of collective trust in God, that is so harmful to us, that causes us to ail with resignation to incredulity and cynicism, is not also connected to the crisis in the alliance between man and woman. In effect, the biblical account, with the great symbolic fresco of earthly paradise and original sin, tells us precisely that communion with God is reflected in the communion of the human couple, and the loss of trust in the heavenly Father generates division and conflict between man and woman”.
“This leads to the great responsibility of the Church, of all believers, and above all of Christian families, to rediscover the beauty of the Creator's plan that inscribes the image of God also in the alliance between man and woman. The earth is filled with harmony and trust when the alliance between man and woman is lived well. And if men and women seek this together between them and with God, without doubt they will find it. Jesus explicitly encourages us to bear witness to this beauty, which is the image of God”, concluded the Pontiff.
Pope's telegram for the death of Cardinal Roberto Tucci, S.J.
Vatican City, 15 April 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences to Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, superior general of the Society of Jesus, for the death of Cardinal Roberto Tucci, S.J., yesterday afternoon in Rome at the age of 93.
In the text, the Pope expresses his heartfelt condolences and recalls with gratitude the prelate's valuable service over several decades as director of “Civilta Cattolica”, expert at Vatican Council II, director general of Vatican Radio and in particular as coordinator of papal trips outside Italy. “He leaves us with the memory of an industrious and dynamic life, spent in the coherent and generous fulfilment of his vocation as a religious man mindful of the needs of others, and a pastor faithful to the Gospel and to the Church, following the example of St. Ignatius. I raise fervent prayers that the Lord might receive him in joy and eternal peace, and I offer you and to your Jesuit brethren the consolation of my apostolic blessing, the sign of my intense participation in our sorrow”.
Ninth meeting of the Council of Cardinals
Vatican City, 15 April 2015 (VIS) – The ninth meeting of the Council of Cardinals (C9), which began on 13 April, was brought to a close this afternoon, according to a briefing by the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J.
The Council of Cardinals dedicated the majority its work regarding reform of the Roman Curia to two aspects: reflections on the methodologies to be followed for work during 2015 and 2016 in order to be able to effectively accomplish the task of preparing the new Constitution, and a rereading of the interventions by the Cardinals in relation to reform of the Curia made during the recent Consistory (there were over sixty interventions on this theme with useful indications and cues, both for the prologue of the constitution and for specific aspects of reform).
The orientation towards the constitution of two dicasteries – one competent in fields of charity, justice and peace, the other regarding the laity, families and life – would appear to be confirmed.
The Council also focused on the issue of the reorganisation of Vatican media, following the submission of the final report of the Commission presided over by Lord Chris Patten.
It is expected that the Pope will constitute a Commission to consider how the recommendations of the report can be put into practice. This body will also include members of the Patten Commission, to ensure continuity.
Finally, Cardinal O'Malley, president of the new Commission for the Protection of Minors, under the auspices of the same Commission, has proposed that the Pope and the Council consider the theme of “Accountability” with regard to the protection of minors, in order to establish appropriate procedures and methods for evaluating and judging cases of “abuse of office” in this area, especially on the part of persons holding responsibility within the Church.
Further meetings of the Council of Cardinals are scheduled to take place from 8 to 10 June, 14 to 16 September and 10 to 12 December 2015.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 15 April 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- Bishop Wilson Luis Angotti Filho, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as bishop of Taubate (area 4,534, population 692,000, Catholics 592,000, priests 123, permanent deacons 55, religious 433), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Carmo Joao Rhoden, S.C.I., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.
- Msgr. Oriolo dos Santos as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Belo Horizonte (area 7,222, population 4,785,000, Catholics 3,350,000, priests 771, permanent deacons 16, religious 2,465), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Itajuba, Brazil in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1990. He holds degrees in philosophy from the University of Campinas and in marking and strategic personnel management from the “Gama Filho” University in Rio de Janeiro. He has served in a number of pastoral roles in the archdiocese of Pouso Alegre, including parish vicar, parish priest, canon of the metropolitan chapter, episcopal vicar for the administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation, promotor of justice of the ecclesiastical tribunal, and professor of philosophy at the archdiocesan seminary. He is currently parish priest of the Cathedral of Pouso Alegre.

#BreakingNews Christian boy Dies after Burnt Alive in Pakistan for his Faith

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - Nauman Masih, the 14-year-old Pakistani Christian, who was burnt alive by a group of unknown young Muslims a few days ago (see Fides 13/04/2015), passed away this morning in the hospital in Lahore. The news was reported to Agenzia Fides from local sources in Pakistan. The boy had been stopped and assaulted after declaring he was a Christian. The young Muslims poured petrol over his body. He had severe burns on 55% of his body.
According to some observers, the gesture may be a revenge after the lynching of two Muslims which happened in Youhanabad - declared innocent - following the attack against the two churches on March 15.
After the public lynching in Lahore the police raided several homes in Youhanabad and arrested more than 100 young Christians to track down the culprits. "Christians condemned the lynching, saying openly that it is a big crime. However in many cases in the past innocent Christians were burnt alive: the mass attacks in the Christian neighborhood in Gojra, Shantinagar, or the Christian couple burnt alive in a brick kiln in November 2014", says to Fides Fr. James Channan, Dominican, Director of the "Peace Center" in Lahore, committed to promoting initiatives of peace, harmony, reconciliation, inter-religious dialogue.
"This episode shows the hatred that circulates in society. We need to work more on dialogue and harmony among believers of different religions", notes Fr. Channan.
Shahbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Punjab, called for those responsible to be arrested. The Director of "Peace Center" concludes: "I would say that today we are in the worst period in history for the life of Christians in Pakistan. Discrimination, suffering, oppression often become real persecution. Today we ask the government: where is justice? Where are the perpetrators of many incidents of gratuitous violence committed against Christians?".
Mervyn Thomas, director of the NGO "Christian Solidarity Worldwide", said in a statement sent to Fides: "We pray for the young boy and for his family. It is difficult to believe that one can kill a boy simply because of his faith and this is extremely worrying. The culture of impunity must end, and religious minorities must be guaranteed the rights of all citizens in Pakistan". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/04/2015)

Happy Birthday Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI age 88

Happy Birthday Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI age 88Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger turned 78 when he was elected Pope. 
Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was born on 16 April, Holy Saturday, 1927, in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany. He was baptised the same day. Pope Benedict XVI's brother, Georg Ratzinger, is a priest. His sister, Maria Ratzinger, who never married, managed Cardinal Ratzinger's household until her death in 1991. Benedict XVI is now Pope Emeritus of the Catholic Church. He was Pope from 2005 to 2013. Benedict XVI was elected on 19 April 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II. He was ordained as a priest in 1951 in Bavaria, Germany. Benedict XVI currently lives in the Residence Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican His parents were Joseph Ratzinger, Sr. and Maria Ratzinger (born: Peintner)
ent.  



BENEDICT XVI with Pope Francis

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thursday April 16, 2015

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
Lectionary: 270

Reading 1ACTS 5:27-33

When the court officers had brought the Apostles in
and made them stand before the Sanhedrin,
the high priest questioned them,
“We gave you strict orders did we not,
to stop teaching in that name.
Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching
and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
But Peter and the Apostles said in reply,
“We must obey God rather than men.
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus,
though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior
to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.
We are witnesses of these things,
as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When they heard this,
they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.

Responsorial PsalmPS 34:2 AND 9, 17-18, 19-20

R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 20:29

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord;
blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 3:31-36

The one who comes from above is above all.
The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things.
But the one who comes from heaven is above all.
He testifies to what he has seen and heard,
but no one accepts his testimony.
Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.
For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.
He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.
The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life,
but the wrath of God remains upon him.

#PopeFrancis “I want to remember that today is the birthday of Benedict XVI,”


Pope Francis at Mass on Thursday at the Casa Santa Marta - OSS_ROM
16/04/2015 11:41


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday offered the Mass at Casa Santa Marta for his predecessor, the Pope Emeritus, on the occasion of Benedict XVI’s 88th birthday. “I want to remember that today is the birthday of Benedict XVI,” Pope Francis said at the liturgy. “I offered the Mass for him, and I invite you to pray for him, that the Lord might sustain him and grant him much joy and happiness.”
In his homily, Pope Francis said those who do not know to dialogue do not obey God; they want to silence those who preach the newness of God.
Obeying God means having the courage to change paths
The liturgy of the day speaks to us about obedience, the Pope said. “Obedience often brings us along a path that is not the one I think should be, but along another path.” To obey is “to have the courage to change paths when the Lord asks this of us.” “The one who obeys has life eternal,” while for “the one who does not obey, the wrath of God remains upon him.” So, in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the priests and leaders order the disciples of Jesus to stop preaching the Gospel to the people: they became infuriated, they are “full of jealousy,” because miracles took place in the presence of the disciples, the people followed them, “and the number of believers grew.” They put the disciples in jail, but in the night, the Angel of the Lord freed them and they returned to proclaiming the Gospel. When he was arrested and questioned again, Peter responded to the threats of the high priest: “We must obey God rather than men.” The priests did not understand:
But they were teachers, they had studied the history of the people, they had studied the prophecies, they had studied the law, they knew all about the theology of the people of Israel, the revelation of God, they knew everything, they were teachers, and they were incapable of recognizing the salvation of God. But why this hardness of hard? Because it is not a hardness of the head, it is not simple stubbornness. Here it is hardness… And one can ask: What is the path of this stubbornness, this total stubbornness, of head and of heart?
The one who doesn’t know to dialogue does not obey God
“The history of this stubbornness, the journey,” the Pope emphasized, “is that of closing in on oneself, is that of not dialoguing, it is the lack of dialogue”:
They didn’t know to dialogue, they didn’t know to dialogue with God, because they didn’t know to pray and to hear the voice of God, and they didn’t know to dialogue with others. ‘But why did they understand in this way?’ They only interpreted how the law could be more precise, but they were closed to the signs of God in history, they were closed to the people, to their people. They were closed, closed. And the lack of dialogue, this closure of the heart, brought them to the point of not obeying God. This is the drama of these teachers of Israel, of these theologians of the people of God: they didn’t know to listen, they didn’t know to dialogue. Dialogue takes place with God and with the brethren.
The one who does not dialogue wants to silence those who preach the newness of God
And the sign that reveals that a person “does not know to dialogue,” “is not open to the voice of the Lord, to the signs that the Lord does among the people,” the Pope said, is the “fury and the desire to silence all those who preach in this case the newness of God, that is that Jesus is Risen. There’s no reason, but they reach this point. It is a sorrowful journey. These are the same people that paid the guards at the sepulchre to say that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus. They did everything they could to not open themselves to the voice of God.”
And in this Mass let us pray for the teachers, for the doctors, for those who teach the people of God, that they would not be closed in on themselves, that they would dialogue, and so save themselves from the wrath of God, which, if they do not change their attitude, will remain upon them.

Saint April 16 : St. Bernadette Soubirous of #Lourdes


St. Bernadette Soubirous
VISIONARY OF LOURDES, VIRGIN
Feast: April 16
Information:
7 January 1844 at Lourdes, France

Died:
16 April 1879, Nevers, France
Canonized:
December 8, 1933, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Patron of:
Sick people, poverty, the family, Lourdes, shepherds
Bernadette's canonization in 1933 was the culmination of a process which had been started nearly three-quarters of a century earlier: she is, therefore, a saint of modern times, and the remarkable facts of her life are readily accessible to all. Her story even challenges the interest of those who do not share the Catholic faith. Christianity had its beginnings among humble people without influence or riches, such as Bernadette. Perhaps it is a natural human instinct to rejoice when the lowly are lifted up to the heights, and especially when a child, neglected and untaught, is chosen for special grace and favor, thus becoming an instrument for good.
Born in Lourdes, France, on January 7, 1844, Bernadette was the first child of Francois and Louise Soubirous. At the time of her birth, Francois was a miller, operating a mill which had belonged to his wife's people. He was a good-natured, easy-going man, with little ability for carrying on a business, and before many years the mill had been forfeited for debt. During most of Bernadette's childhood he was an odd job man, picking up a day's work as opportunity offered, and, from time to time, escaping from his problems and responsibilities by turning to the delusive comfort of alcohol. His wife and children, naturally, were the chief sufferers from his ineffectualness. Louise, whose family was of somewhat better economic status than her husband's, was a hard worker, a warm-hearted neighbor, and exemplary in her observance of Catholic rites. Within a short space of years many children were born to her, only five of whom survived infancy. After Bernadette, there was another girl, Toinette Marie, and three boys. To help feed and clothe them it was often necessary for their harassed mother to go out to work by the day, doing laundry and other rough tasks for the more prosperous citizens, and, on one occasion, at least, helping to harvest a crop of grain. A peasant woman of the region has told of seeing little Bernadette, then about twelve, carrying the youngest baby to Louise in the field, to be nursed during the noon-day rest period. As a child, Bernadette not only did more than might be expected in caring for the smaller children, but helped in their moral and religious training as well.
Bernadette was never strong, and from the age of six she showed symptoms of the respiratory ailment that later became a chronic affliction. It is not clear at this early stage whether she suffered from asthma or tuberculosis, but we know that her mother was anxious about her health and made an effort to provide special food for her. When Bernadette was thirteen she was sent to the neighboring mountain hamlet of Bartres, to the home of one Marie Arevant, her foster mother. It was here that Bernadette had been taken for a few months when she was still an infant, to be nursed by Madame Arevant, who had just lost a baby. The woman now had a large family and little Bernadette made herself useful in the house and in the fields. One of her duties was to tend a small flock of sheep that grazed on a hillside nearby; it is this brief phase of her girlhood that has inspired artists to picture her as a shepherdess. Her life was a lonely one, and we get the impression that she was overworked and homesick while she remained in this peasant home. At all events she sent word to her parents that she wished to leave Bartres. One thing seemed especially to disturb her at this time; although she was now fourteen, she had not made her First Communion. Her foster mother had tried half-heartedly to prepare her, but after one or two sessions had impatiently given it up, saying that Bernadette was too dull to learn.
When Bernadette went back to Lourdes, it made her very happy to be admitted to the day school conducted by the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction. This was a teaching and nursing order whose mother-house is at Nevers, in central France. A hospice, a day school, and a boarding school were maintained at Lourdes by these devout nuns, who were, as a group, unusually well trained. Thus Bernadette at last began her secular education, and, under Abbe Pomian, continued to prepare for First Communion. She was also learning a little French, for up to this time she spoke only the local dialect. The nuns discovered that beneath a quiet, modest exterior, Bernadette had a winning personality and a lively sense of humor. This might have been a happy and constructive time for the little girl had it not been for the ever-increasing shadows of poverty at home.
After moving from one poor location to another, the Soubirous family was now living in a single room of a dilapidated structure in the rue des Petits Fosses; this damp, unwholesome place had once served as a jail and was known as Le Cachot, the Dungeon. Above loomed an ancient fortress, and the narrow cobbled street had once been a part of the moat. The town of Lourdes, itself very old, is situated in one of the most picturesque parts of France, lying in the extreme southwest, near the Spanish frontier, where the Pyrenees mountains rise sharply above the plains. From the craggy, wooded heights, several valleys descend to converge at this site, and the little river Gave rushes through the town, its turbulent current turning the wheels of many mills. There are escarpments of rock in and around Lourdes, the most famous being the Massabeille, a great mound jutting out from the base of a plateau. On the side facing the river it had an arch-shaped opening which led into a sizeable grotto-a grotto that was soon destined to become famous in every part of the world. At this time the Massabeille had, if not exactly an aura of evil, a touch of the sinister. According to legend, it had been sacred to the pagans of prehistoric times; now it served as a shelter for fishermen or herdsmen caught by sudden storms.
It was very cold on February 11, 1858, the day that was to mark the beginning of such an extraordinary series of events at the rock of Massabeille. When Bernadette returned from school her mother gave her permission to go down by the river to pick up driftwood and fallen branches. Toinette Marie, aged nine, and Marie Abadie, aged twelve, a neighbor's child, went with her. When the three girls reached the Massabeille, the two younger ones took off their wooden shoes to wade across an icy mill-stream which here joined the river. Bernadette, more sensitive, hung behind. Standing alone beside the river, she had started to remove her stockings when she heard a noise like a sudden rush of wind. Looking up towards the grotto she saw some movement among the branches, then there floated out of the opening a golden cloud, and in the midst of it was the figure of a beautiful young girl who placed herself in a small niche in the rock, at one side of the opening and slightly above it. In the crannies around this niche grew stunted vines and shrubs, and in particular a white eglantine. Bernadette, staring in fascination, saw that the luminous apparition was dressed in a soft white robe, with a broad girdle of blue, and a long white veil that partially covered her hair. Her eyes were blue and gentle. Golden roses gleamed on her bare feet. When the vision smiled and beckoned to Bernadette, the girl's fear vanished and she came a few steps nearer, then sank reverently to her knees. She drew her rosary from her pocket, for, in moments of stress, she habitually said her beads. The mysterious being also had a rosary, of large white beads, and to quote Bernadette's own account: "The Lady let me pray alone; she passed the beads of the rosary between her fingers, but said nothing; only at the end of each decade did she say the Gloria with me." When the recitation was finished, the Lady vanished into the cave and the golden mist  disappeared with her. This experience affected Bernadette so powerfully that, when the other girls turned back to look for her, she was still kneeling, a rapt, faraway look on her face. They chided her, thinking she had passed the time praying to escape the task of gathering fuel. Tying up their twigs and branches into faggots, they started for home. Too full of her vision to keep quiet about it, before they had gone far Bernadette burst out with the whole wondrous story; she asked the girls to say nothing at home. But Toinette told Madame Soubirous that same evening, and soon the news spread further. Bernadette wished to go back to the Massabeille the next day, but her mother, after talking the matter over with a sister, refused her permission.
Bernadette now showed the independence of spirit-some were to characterize it as obstinacy-that became one of her outstanding traits. When she told her confessor of the apparition, Abbe Pomian made light of it, thinking the girl suffered from hallucinations. Nevertheless, on the following Sunday Bernadette asked if she might go to the grotto and her father told her she might go if she took a flask of holy water with her, to exorcise the apparition should it prove to be a demon. Bernadette, advancing ahead of several little friends who accompanied her, knelt before the grotto and soon the vision appeared as before. On their return the excited girls, although they had seen nothing, naturally began to tell their versions of the affair, and soon the town buzzed with varying reports and rumors. On the next market day the peasants heard of these strange happenings. The story reached the Mother Superior of the convent, who took a firm stand: she announced to the class preparing for Communion, comprising Bernadette's friends and companions for the most part, that they must stop talking and thinking of this matter. Bernadette's teacher, Sister Marie Therese Vauzous, was even hostile.
The apparition was manifest to Bernadette for the third time  on Thursday, February 18, when she went to the grotto accompanied by two women of Lourdes who thought the "damiezelo," as Bernadette called her, was the returning spirit of a young woman, one of their dear friends, who had died a few months before. On this occasion the same little figure appeared to Bernadette, smiled warmly, and spoke, asking Bernadette to come every day for fifteen days. Bernadette promised to come, provided she was given permission to do so. Since neither her god-mother, who was her mother's sister, nor the priest actually forbade it, Bernadette's parents offered no objection. On the following day her mother and aunt went with her, and on subsequent visits great crowds of people gathered on the Massabeille, or down by the river, hoping to see or hear something miraculous. During these two weeks the excitement increased to such a pitch that the civil authorities felt obliged to take action. The police were not content to threaten the Soubirous family; they must take Bernadette to the local police office for questioning and try to make her admit that it was all an elaborate hoax. Bernadette emerged from this and many another ordeal somewhat shaken but obdurate. The authorities continued to try to discredit her. They even gave currency to the report that the whole thing had been thought up by Bernadette's poverty-stricken parents, so that they might derive some profit from it. Francois and Louise Soubirous, from being puzzled, worried, and uncertain at the outset, had now come to believe in the supernatural character  of their daughter's experiences, and stood loyally by her. They did not dream of exploiting the affair in their own interest. As a matter of fact, pious, well-meaning people were bringing them gifts of money and food, sometimes asking for a token from Bernadette. These offerings were declined; even Bernadette's small brothers were cautioned to accept nothing. The girl herself was adamant in her determination to have no part in any kind of trafficking; the record of her complete honesty and disinterestedness is clear and unquestioned. However, she found the sudden notoriety unpleasant, and this sensitivity to being stared at and talked about and pointed out was to last throughout her life. People began to gather at the grotto in the middle of the night, awaiting her appearance. It was rumored that she had a miraculous, healing touch. Several cures were attributed to her.
On Sunday, February 21, a number of persons went with her to the grotto, including citizens who had been highly skeptical. On this occasion, Bernadette reported later, the apparition said to her: "You will pray to God for sinners." On February 26, while she was in the trance-like state which lasted as long as she saw the vision, Bernadette crawled inside the grotto, and, at the Lady's bidding, uncovered with her bare hands a little trickle of water from which she drank and with which she bathed her face, still at the Lady's direction. This tiny spring continued to well up and by the next day was flowing steadily down into the river: to this day it has never ceased to gush forth from the grotto. The people regarded its discovery by Bernadette as a miracle.
On March 2 Bernadette saw the apparition for the thirteenth  time. It was on this day that the Lady bade Bernadette to tell the priests that "a chapel should be built and a procession formed." Bernadette had no thought but to obey, in spite of the open hostility of the cure of Lourdes. Dean Peyramale, an imposing man of excellent family and background, received Bernadette and reprimanded her harshly, asking her to inquire the name of her visitant, and to tell her she must perform a real miracle, such as making the eglantine bloom out of season, to prove herself. During the preceding weeks he had ordered the priests to have nothing to do with the grotto, for it was the general practice of the clergy to discourage or ignore religious visionaries. Very often such persons were ill-balanced or suffering from delusions. As a matter of fact, Bernadette's experiences were proving contagious, and before long many others, young and old, were claiming to have had supernatural visions at the grotto and elsewhere. Dean Peyramale's stand of determined opposition was based on the necessity of restoring order in the parish.
On March 25, Lady Day, Bernadette started for the grotto at  dawn. When the vision appeared to her, Bernadette said: "Would you kindly tell me who you are?" When the girl had repeated the question twice more, the Lady replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception. I want a chapel here." This answer, when reported by Bernadette, caused the local excitement to rise to a still higher pitch and the feeling grew that Bernadette's visitor was the Blessed Virgin. Only four years before the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been promulgated. The seventeenth apparition took place on April 7, and the final one, more than three months later, on July 16. By that time, the grotto, which the people were trying to make into a sanctuary and place of worship, had been barricaded by the town authorities to discourage worshipers and curiosity-seekers from congregating there. During the twenty-one years that she was to remain on earth, Bernadette never again saw the vision. The accounts of  what she had seen and heard, which she was obliged to repeat so often, never varied in any significant detail.
Meanwhile the news of the phenomenal happenings at Lourdes had reached the very highest ecclesiastical and government circles: the bishop, the prefect, even Emperor Napoleon III and his pious wife Eugenie, became actors in the drama. On October 5, the mayor of Lourdes, on orders from above, had the grotto reopened. It was thought that the empress herself had had a voice in this decision. At all events, it seemed to be the only appropriate response to the overwhelming demand of the people for a shrine Bernadette's visions, the new spring, and the cures that were being reported, all had taken a profound hold on the popular imagination.
Due to a lucky turn, Bernadette's family was now more comfortably situated, and, to escape visitors, Bernadette went to live at the convent. Even there, intrusions upon her privacy were allowed; these she bore as patiently as she could. While her fame not only continued but steadily grew, Bernadette herself withdrew more and more. At the age of twenty she decided to take the veil. Since the state of her health precluded the more ascetic orders, it was considered best for her to join the Sisters who had taught and sheltered her. At twenty-two, therefore, she traveled to the motherhouse of the convent. Her novitiate was full of trials and sorrows. Acting under the quite unfounded notion that Bernadette's visions and all the attendant publicity might have made the young woman vain or self-important, Sister Marie Therese Vauzous, now novice-mistress at Nevers, was very severe with her former pupil. Although she made life difficult for Bernadette, the little novice met all tests with perfect humility. She cheerfully performed the menial tasks assigned to her, at first in the convent kitchen, although this work must have taxed her strength. Later, when it was noted that her sympathetic manner made her a favorite with sick people, she was appointed assistant infirmarian. Her step and touch were light, and her very presence brought comfort. But during these years, Bernadette was suffering from the chronic disease which was slowly draining her life away. She was finally given work in the sacristy, where cleverness with the needle made her work admired and cherished. She displayed a real gift for design and color in embroidering the sacred vestments. To all tasks she brought a pure grace of spirit and an utter willingness to serve.
In September, 1878, Bernadette made her perpetual and final  vows. Her strength was ebbing away, but even when she was confined to wheel chair or bed, she went on with the fine needlework. And now she had more time for prayer and meditation. There is little outward drama in the life of a nun, but in Bernadette's case there was steady activity, steady growth, in things of the spirit. She had been told by her vision that she would not attain happiness in this world. Her childhood had been sad, and maturity had brought no easing of the burden she must carry. During the last two years of life a tumor developed on one knee, which was followed by caries of the bone. She suffered excruciating pain. One day, when a Superior came to visit her and said, "What are you doing in bed, you lazy little thing?" Bernadette simply replied, "I am doing my stint. I must be a victim." She felt that such was the Divine plan for her.
The nuns, the novice mistress, and the Superior had all long since come to regard her as the vessel of Divine grace and to believe in the reality of those visitations of her youth. She still suffered from the curiosity of visiting strangers. Not only did nuns and priests come to Nevers but celebrities from Paris and other parts of France came to see for themselves the now famous Bernadette. Disliking publicity as she did, yet not wishing to remain isolated and aloof if a glimpse of her could help or inspire any other human soul, she met this test too-and sometimes with a native cleverness. Once a visitor stopped her as she was passing down a corridor and asked where she could get a glimpse of Sister Bernadette. The little nun said, "Just watch that doorway and presently you will see her go through." And she slipped away through the door. Such was the prestige her presence gave to the order that many young women now joined it.
On her death-bed, in a spasm of pain, Bernadette pressed the  crucifix closer to her, and cried, "All this is good for Heaven!" That afternoon, as the nuns of the convent knelt round her bed to repeat the prayers for the dying, they heard her say in a low voice, "Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me! A poor sinner, a poor sinner-" She could not finish. The date was April 16, 1879. As soon as the news spread, people came streaming towards the convent, chanting, "The saint is dead! The saint is dead!" Bernadette's body was placed in a casket which was sealed, then buried near the chapel of St. Joseph in the convent grounds. When it was exhumed in 1908 by the commission formed to forward the examination of Bernadette's life and character, it was found to be intact and uncorrupted. In August, 1913, Pope Pius X conferred the title of Venerable upon her, and in June, 1925, the ceremony of beatification took place. Since then, her body, reposing in a handsome glass reliquary, lies in the convent chapel, guarded above by a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and by the nuns who keep vigil. In Rome, on December 8, 1933, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, amidst a brilliant setting and the fanfare of silver trumpets, Bernadette Soubirous was admitted to the company of saints. This little nun, humble, unlettered, honest, and obedient, is venerated by the great host of Catholic worshipers throughout the world. Tens of thousands of them journey annually to the glorious shrine at Lourdes.
The story of Lourdes as a pilgrimage place forms a strange contrast to Bernadette's retired life of prayer and service. Its growth from a sleepy country town to its present status as the most popular pilgrimage place in Christendom has been phenomenal. A railroad line from Pau was built, facilitating the influx of visitors who, from the very first year, were drawn to Lourdes. Dean Peyramale and his superior, the bishop of Pau, who at first had scoffed, came to believe most ardently; it was the aged dean who found the money for raising the great basilica to Our Lady, which was completed in 1876. Participating in the ceremony were thirty-five prelates, a cardinal, and three thousand priests. Sister Bernadette had no share in these rites. Another church at the base of the basilica was erected and consecrated in 1901. The entire district has been enhanced by architecture and landscaping to make it an impressive sanctuary, with a background of great natural beauty.
Of the cures at Lourdes it can be said that even non-believers have observed something here that medical science cannot explain. The commission of physicians, known as the Bureau of Constatations, who examine evidence and report on their findings, operate with great caution and circumspection. The alleged cure must be immediate and permanent to be regarded as a miracle. Medical records prior to the trip are studied, as well as the patient's subsequent medical history. The patient may himself be a witness, and it is most moving to hear the words, "I was sick and now I am well," which give such comfort and hope to others who are ailing. Only a few cures each year stand up against these rigid tests, but those few are enough. The thousands-the lame, the halt, the blind -continue to come, to be washed in the waters of the spring, to share in the processions, the singing, the prayers, the impressive rites, and breathe the pure air of faith. The Canticle of Bernadette hovers in that air, and even those well persons who go to Lourdes simply searching for a renewal of faith find themselves amply rewarded, for the spirit of the child Bernadette is still a potent inspiration.


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/B/stbernadettesoubirous.asp#ixzz1sCYo6ocp