On Thursday, February 11th, 1858, in Lourdes, the fire in the hearth of the "Cachot" went out.
Bernadette, Toinette and a friend, Baloume, went to Massabielle in search of firewood. There, in the Grotto, a Lady dressed in “white" appeared to Bernadette. On the way home, Bernadette told her sister about her vision. Toinette, who had seen nothing herself, told their mother who forbade them to return to the Grotto.
|Although forbidden to go there, on February 23rd she returned to the Grotto and the vision she called “aquero" - or "that" - appeared again.
On February 24th, for her eight apparition, the Lady said, "Penitence", then, "Would you pray to God for the conversion of sinners ?" The following day she told Bernadette to "Go and drink at the spring and wash in it" and "eat of the grass that is there". Obediently, Bernadette dug a hole which filled with muddy water.
On February 27th and 28th, and March 1st, "aquero" appeared again at Massabielle, where a clear spring now flowed.
During the thirteenth vision, on March 2nd, the Lady said, "Tell the priests to let the people come in procession and let a chapel be built". On March 3rd, she repeated her instructions. But the parish priest, Father Peyramale, required a sign. "First let her tell you her name, then have her make the rosebush at the Grotto flower", he said.
On March 4th, the last day of the fortnight, the Lady said nothing.
Not until the 16th apparition, on March 25th, did she say, "I am the Immaculate Conception". Bernadette ran to repeat these words to an astonished Father Peyramale.
On April 7th, nearly a thousand people witnessed the "miracle of the candle".
On July 16th, since the authorities had fenced off the Grotto, Bernadette slipped away to the meadow on the far bank of the Gave for an eighteenth and final meeting with her Lady. "Never had I seen her looking so beautiful", she said.