“We welcome this news with great joy. Miracles are a sign that the Lord is at work in our lives, in the Church, in our communities. A miracle is like the visible part of an ocean of graces that occur in Lourdes. Beyond this miracle there is the work of God in our hearts, in the hearts of the faithful.” Those were the first words of the bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, Monsignor Nicolas Brouwet, contacted by phone by SIR and asked to comment on the news of the official recognition of the miraculous healing of a woman religious. Sister Bernadette Moriau was affected for many years by a serious disease that had caused a progressive form of paralysis. Hers is the 70th miracle occurred in Lourdes.
Sister Moriau is a nun of the Franciscan Oblates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The miracle dates back to ten years ago when, in July 2008, the nun took part in a diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes. Her recovery occurred upon her return to the community of Besles, near Beauvais. “In the grotto – the nun said – I perceived the mysterious presence of Mary and of the young Bernadette… I never asked to be healed. I asked for a conversion of the heart and the strength to continue my journey in that condition of sickness.” Following the procedures, her case was examined by the Bureau Médical International de Lourdes, and the final decision (taken by all doctors except for one) was that the healing of Sister Moriau “is unexplainable in the light of our present scientific knowledge.”
“There is no logic but the Lord’s wisdom”, said the bishop of Lourdes answering a question on why the Lord has chosen her to perform the miracle and not someone else. “He chose that person – said Msgr. Brouwet – to give a sign to the Church. This nun had not asked to be healed, she had invoked a conversion of the heart, in her pilgrimage. It is a reminder of the Gospel: Jesus does not heal everyone but only some to show to the world that the power of Salvation is at work in humanity. The miracle given to some is the sign of His presence and of His desire of Salvation, not only for the body but for the whole person.”
The miracle was announced – or more precisely, the official recognition of the miraculous recovery- on Sunday February 11, the Day marking the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 160th anniversary of the apparitions of the Holy Virgin to Bernadette Soubirous. Every year the Shrine is the destination of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. But bishop Brouwet underlined that “the first grace of Lourdes is the presence of the sick. While in other places in the world the disease is hidden, in Lourdes the sick and the disabled are at the centre and we serve them.
Lourdes represents a converse society.
Sick people show us who we are and they help us be true to ourselves and to God. Along with the sick – this is most authentic experience made in Lourdes – we are all faced with the truth of our existence, with our poverties and weaknesses, and placed before the Mercy of the Lord. Regardless of our weaknesses, our limits, and even of our sins, here in Lourdes we are all embraced for who we are.”
The news of a recovery having occurred in the shrine of Lourdes could lead many people to hope in a miracle “at all costs.” “Yes, it could happen”, the bishop said. “But I believe that a very small number of people come here asking for miraculous healing. Most of the people I see here in Lourdes come to pray and be strengthened in their faith. In the sick people arriving to Lourdes we see first of all the joy of living with others, being surrounded by tenderness, dialogue, being listened to. The disease is often lived out in a state of loneliness. The true miracle of Lourdes is not the recovery but other people’s love and this is the new gaze through which the other person’s weakness is received, a gaze that can transform human hearts and our societies.”