One hundred and sixty years ago, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on eighteen occasions to Bernadette Soubirous, a very poor, 14-year-old girl, in a cave situated just outside the Village of Lourdes. The first of the apparitions took place on February 11th, the day we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
On this same day twenty six years ago, Pope John Paul II declared February 11th the World Day of the Sick. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has written a message that all members should read on the theme of this year’s two-part celebration, the image of the “Mater Ecclesia”.
In his message, the Holy Father points out that, just like “Mary’s maternal vocation for all humanity”, the Church, with its long standing tradition of service to the sick, keeps its own “maternal vocation to the needy and to the sick. [That tradition] has found concrete expression throughout the two thousand years of her history in an impressive series of initiatives on behalf of the sick [… and] continues to the present day throughout the world”. It is in this context of spiritual and material dedication that the Sovereign Order of Malta carries out its mission of caring for those who suffer and are in need.
Click here to read the Pope’s message.