The Eighteenth Apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes
On July 16, 1858 Our Lady appears last time to Bernadette in Lourdes. This day is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
July 16th (Friday) was the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel — in the parish church of Lourdes there was an altar dedicated to the Blessed Virgin under this title. While praying there in the early evening, Bernadette - who faithfully wore the Brown Scapular of Carmel all the days of her life - once more felt herself called by her Lady to come to the Grotto.
The Grotto was boarded up now and closed to the public, access to it forbidden and use of the water disallowed. But nothing could stop the child responding to the call of the Immaculate One.
She left the Church immediately and ran to the home of her Aunt Basile, to ask her to accompany her to the Grotto. Since the Grotto itself was now closed, the two took another path, across the field known as 'de la Ribere', leading to the right bank of the river Gave, opposite the vault and the niche. On the way to the rock, they met several of the Lourdes women; these followed the visionary, since it was obvious she was going back to the Grotto.
On the far side of the river, the child knelt to commence her prayers. Almost immediately, her little face was transfigured with the heavenly light of her beautiful Lady, who stood once more in the hallowed niche across the water.
"Yes! Yes! She is there!" exclaimed the little one. "She welcomes us and is smiling upon us across the barriers!". Then she began her intimate discourse with the Woman who so enraptured her and who was the sole reality for her at that moment.
It seemed to those present that at intervals during the dialogue, the child was almost trying to fly across the water, so far forward did she lean. But now the moment had come for the Lady to say farewell to her little protégé, her own child, who now would have to await her entry into Heaven before gazing upon Her beauty once more.
The child later declared that "The Blessed Virgin is so beautiful that when one has seen Her once, one would gladly wish to die so as to see Her again". That feeling was now to flower within the heart and soul of the faithful child.
As the sun was beginning to set, the Lady who called Herself the Immaculate Conception took Her leave of the child, ending the vision with Bernadette still in the fullness of her joy. As She disappeared, She cast one last smile upon Bernadette. Never again in this life would Bernadette see the Lady; now she could only wait for Her to keep the promise She had made at the second Apparition — "I do not promise to make you happy in this life, but in the next".