Lourdes, 154 Years Later, Still a Place of Healing
By Dan Valenti (Feb 10, 2012)
Our Lady appeared to young Bernadette Soubirous in a grotto on the outskirts of Lourdes, France, on Feb. 11, 1858 — the first of 18 apparitions of the Blessed Mother ending July 16 of that year.
The documented power of the healing waters that miraculously sprung up within the rock promontory known as Massabielle ("Big Rock" in French) has since become well known. Thousands of healings have been reported from the waters of Lourdes.
Nurse Marie Romagnano, RN, founder and director of the Marian Fathers' apostolate Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy, has been to Lourdes many times and has witnessed its healing graces. Her most memorable trip came in June 2007. She went there with two Marian priests — Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, and then-Marian Provincial Superior Fr. Mark Garrow, MIC, on a mission to seek healing.
"We journeyed to Lourdes guided by Our Lady every step of the way," Nurse Marie says.
Father Mark was in the final stages of a battle with cancer that began in early fall 2006, when he first noticed a lesion on his tongue. The lesion did not heal. Despite the pain, facial disfigurement, and other difficulties, Marie says, "Caring for Fr. Mark was easy. He was pleasant, courteous, and gentle — even at times apologetic, especially if he thought his needs were burdensome. Through it all, he remained peaceful and calm."
In May 2007, Nurse Marie arranged a pilgrimage to Lourdes to seek healing. "This special place of visitation of Our Lady and of God's outpouring of grace provided Fr. Mark with an environment of prayer and spiritual consolation," says Fr. Kaz. "Each day at the Shrine and the Grotto offered [him] a special place for extended prayer and meditation, celebration of the Eucharist, Eucharistic Adoration, and a candlelight Rosary procession."
Father Mark's healing did not take place in his body. The cancer progressed, and on Oct. 19, 2007, Fr. Mark died. Nonetheless, a healing did occur.
Speaking for Nurse Marie, Fr. Kaz says, "We are convinced that Our Lady of Lourdes prepared Fr. Mark for his death and gave him the greatest possible gift: the spiritual healing of accepting God's will and embracing the cross of suffering with faith, trust, and a deep peace of heart.
"It was a great grace for both of us to share in Fr. Mark's journey of suffering and illness," Fr. Kaz says. "We learned to trust in God's will for our life, a great privilege and honor for which we will always be grateful to our Lord and Our Lady."