Lourdes and Luisita are two words which inspire very different thoughts in our minds. Lourdes- we think of Mary, Bernadette, grottos, water, and healing. Luisita; we think of our Mother foundress, Mexico, hospitals, schools, and religious persecution. The two don’t seem particularly connected. Why bring up Luisita when we’re talking about Lourdes?
Luisita was born twenty-two years after St. Bernadette, in 1866. The Lourdes apparitions had occurred only 8 years before, and had not yet received Church approval. At the time of their approval in 1876, Luisita was a ten year old girl across the world in Mexico, but no doubt she heard tales of young Bernadette, the girl who saw the Blessed Mother, and who was still living at the time. Bernadette died shortly thereafter in 1879. Fifty-eight years later, on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, in 1937, Madre Luisita passed out of the world. Yes, the feast of Mother Luisita’s entrance into eternity and the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes are one and the same.
There is also a little known fact about Our Lady of Lourdes that bring these two feasts together in a beautiful, interior way. It is a fact that is hard to discover, for it is hidden in the garden of Carmel.
The final apparition in Lourdes occurred on July 16th, 1958, on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Bernadette recounted later that Our Lady looked “more beautiful than I had ever seen her.” This last apparition occurred just after Bernadette had been blessed by her first communion. Bernadette said she knew that this time would be the last of her visits with the Blessed Mother, because “my Lady had prepared my soul for Jesus, and she would give me now to him with whom I had communed. I knew, because of the way she held her head as she said goodbye. She left heaven in my heart and it has been there ever since.”
To have Heaven in one’s heart; that is Carmel. Perhaps that is why Bernadette considered entering the Carmelite Order, but was unable to due to her bad health. What a beautiful gift to the children of Carmel for Our Blessed Mother to appear on her Carmelite Feast day as the last and most glorious visit of all her visits. And what a confirmation of our Queen’s love for Carmel to take her daughter Mother Luisita, a servant of the poor and the sick, to her Heavenly home on the feast of Lourdes, the land of healing and conversion.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, whatever kind of healing is needed in your life right now, have confidence in our loving Mother Mary, just as Mother Luisita urged: “With our Blessed Mother helping us, we know everything will turn out fine.”