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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Pope Grants Indulgences

Very important historically and religiously, Pope Benedict XVI has authorized special indulgences to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Virgin Mary's appearance at Lourdes to shepherdess, Bernadette Soubirous, in 1858.

The pontiff said that Catholics praying at places of worship dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes from February 2nd to 11th will receive indulgences, as will those visiting the actual site in December of next year. Indulgences reduce the time spent in Purgatory.

They became infamous in the 16th-Century for being sold, as opposed to being earned, which lead to the Protestant reformation.

Bernadette Soubirous claimed to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary in a cave, which told her she was the Immaculate Conception and that a church should be erected at the site. Authorities tried to force her to recant, but she remained strong and even had further visions throughout the year. Suddenly, a spring emerged from the cave and was reputed to have extraordinary healing powers. Authorities tried to stop the flow of the spring and delay the construction of the church, but the stories reached the French Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, and construction went forward.

Bernadette Soubirous was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1933.

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