image via Wikipedia
While out collecting firewood near a French grotto near Massabielle, on February 11, 1858, a fourteen-year-old miller’s daughter by the name of Bernadette Soubirous had a vision of the Immaculate Conception. Some people believed her; others did not. Bishop Laurence questioned her and believed, and today Bernadette is recognized as a saint. The message she had heard from the Immaculate Conception was to build a chapel in the grotto. Today there are many chapels in Lourdes.
There is also a grotto devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes in Lowell, Massachusetts. Jack Kerouac wrote about it, and Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Bob Dylan have visited it when stopping by the Beat novelist’s hometown.
I had the good fortune of visiting Lowell’s Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes with eminent Beat scholar Roger Brunelle, who shared some of his own stories. I wrote about it in my Church Hopping column for Burnside Writers Collective. Two years later I visited again, this time with my Kerouac biography coauthor Paul Maher Jr.
My art post “A Time to Weep” went up on Burnside yesterday.
The photo above is of a statue of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Catholics refer to her as Our Lady of Lourdes because of the apparition Saint Bernadette had of her in Lourdes, France.
Jack Kerouac fans may be interested in my Church Hopping column on the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Saint Marie-Bernarde Soubirous was born on this day in 1844 in Lourdes, France. She saw a vision of Mother Mary, who spoke to her in Gascon, which is now an endangered language. The visions inspired the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lowell that Jack Kerouac writes about. You can read about this famous landmark, where Bob Dylan, Jackie O., and Allen Ginsberg also visited in my Church Hopping column on Burnside Writers Collective.
A car packed with teenagers was speeding down the street at the exact moment we were approaching the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on foot. It was an unseasonably warm October day in 2011, and the car window was rolled down. Or maybe the rebellious, rowdy passengers rolled it down when they saw us, a group of about twenty-five people, looking eagerly toward the Stations of the Cross. ”God sucks!” a teenager yelled to the support of his peers. The car vanished down the road as we turned around.
Read the rest of my article Church Hopping: Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on Burnside Writers Collective and discover how Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, JFK and Jackie Kennnedy, and endangered languages are connected to this place.