The Eleventh Apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes
Next day, Sunday, February 28th, several thousands of people were waiting at dawn for the arrival of the child-seer at Massabielle. She came there at her usual hour, in her modest Sunday attire, having her aunt Lucile with her, and tripping along like one who hastens to enjoy a favorite feast. Soon around her was a sea of human heads, extending along both banks a moving amphitheater from which emerged the figure of the peasant-child, who, amidst an impressive silence, shed over this multitude the glorious reflection of the other world, for the Lady did not keep them long waiting. But this morning there were only personal communications, that had no reference to the people. Apparently they were made for the private direction of Bernadette, whose education and interior progress was not to be neglected amidst so many episodes of every kind.
When, at the end of these sacred colloquies, the little girl wished to approach the foot of the Rock to perform her final devotions, she could not advance a step, so dense was the crowd ; and two friendly soldiers, who had come there from the Fortress, had to make a way for her. Her duties finished, the child, who was escorted with an ever-increasing respect by countless throngs, went straight to the old church, to hear Sunday Mass there, as if to show that the most sublime of ecstasies cannot dispense even the Saints from the ordinary duties of the Christian life.
On the morning of Sunday, February 28th, the last day of the month, the shining Vision, after loading her confidant with favors, seemed to retire. Then, breaking the solemn silence, always the prelude of something great, she said to the child: “Go and tell the priests that a chapel must be built here.”
What an unforeseen task! Bernadette was at first puzzled by it. It was no easy task, she thought, to face this rough man, the Curé of Lourdes, who by his crabbed ways had the knack of making her more frightened than two gendarmes. But since the Lady had spoken, she could only obey. The little child, then, after resting a little at her house, gathers up her courage and goes to the presbytery. With such a personage she could not feel at her ease. The poor child trembled from head to foot. At length, when, after some words not very reassuring, she was asked to explain herself clearly, she told him at once about the shrine to be built.
Irony was mixed with objections, and even rebukes came from Fr. Peyramale slips. It is true the priest did not long keep up this assumed severity before his daring sheep, for she gave respectfully, but firmly and cleverly, a reply to every question, and so clearly that the man of God was amazed by it. He wished then to know from the child herself this strange affair from the very beginning, and whilst the humble but unfaltering interpreter of Heaven unfolded with unerring precision her marvelous tale, he eyed her keenly, almost religiously, without losing a single word or a single movement of her unusual physiognomy, reflecting truly that he had before him a soul of crystal in which Heaven was mirrored.
Yet the building of the chapel was a great crux to him. He soon returned to this delicate point, the gist of the message, and with his sharp manner said to his visitor: “You will tell the Lady that if I am to listen to her, she must first prove to me who she is, and what claims she has to such a request.”
Clearly wisdom spoke here by the priest s mouth. In the Church of God, since revelation in the strict sense is finished, private supernatural revelation is admitted only when there is no means of acting otherwise. The little messenger had certainly enough Christian sense to understand it. She politely bowed and went away, leaving in the soul of the worthy priest a heavenly odor of sanctity, as it were, together with much religious uneasiness.