I am the Immaculate Conception
Today, we honor the Feast of the Annunciation and anniversary of the apparition when Our Lady revealed her identity to Bernadette in the Grotto at Lourdes saying: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
The March 25th Feast of the Annunciation is the anniversary of the day the Archangel Gabriel greeted Mary with the words we read in the book of Luke: “Hail full of grace”. Mary responded with her yes, “Fiat!” accepting to be the mother of Our Lord.
On this feast from which we derive the Hail Mary, in 1858, Bernadette felt the mysterious pull to return to the Grotto. Bernadette found the Lady waiting in the Grotto. While praying, Bernadette requested the name of the Lady, as the pastor, Abbé Peyramale, was insisting.
The Lady smiled, remaining silent.
Bernadette asked again.
Another smile in response.
Bernadette asked a third time and once more…
Finally, the Lady answered: “Que soy era Immaculada Councepciou.”
Speaking in Bernadette’s dialect, the Lady called herself by name with words Bernadette had never heard before. Bernadette ran through the streets repeating the words over and over. She reached the gate of the Presbytère where the priests lived. The imposing pastor wanted to know who was this lady that only Bernadette could see. Who was this lady asking for prayer, penance, procession and a chapel?
On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception:
“the Blessed Virgin Mary
in the first moment of her conception,
by a singular privilege and grace granted by God,
in view of the merits of Jesus Christ,
the Savior of the human race,
was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.”
In Lourdes, France, on the very same day of the proclamation of this third Marian Dogma, Père Dominique Peyramale was appointed the local pastor of the parish church never providing information about the Marian Dogma to his new parishioners in the town of Lourdes.
Four years later, he would hear the title of Immaculate Conception from Our Lady’s lips through Bernadette’s ears. He knew illiterate Bernadette could not have read about the Dogma in French or Latin!
This confirmed to the pastor who the lady appearing in the Grotto was with her title “I am the Immaculate Conception.”