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August 13, 2010
Lourdes: Font of Faith, Hope, and Charity
By Br. Benet S. Exton *

By Br. Benet S. Exton *

Ficocelli, Elizabeth. New York: Paulist Press, 2007. 181 pages. ISBN 978-0-8091-4486-0.

In this book, Elizabeth Ficocelli presents the history of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, to the French peasant girl, St. Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France on February 11, 1858 and for several days afterwards.

In the book, the reader will learn about the apparitions, the life of St. Bernadette and what happened after the apparitions ended.

Ficocelli also talks about the Lourdes water, which people drink and bathe in. The water has cured many illnesses, both physical and spiritual. Ficocelli says there have been many miracles, but few have been officially authenticated by the Church. Part of the book is also dedicated to talking about the many volunteers who come from all over the world to work there, helping people to get in and out of the baths. These volunteers receive no compensation and must travel to and from Lourdes at their own cost.

The book also presents the various buildings of the grounds of the shrine. There are several large churches and basilicas and places of prayer. The spring where the water comes from is a fixture at the shrine as is the grotto where Mary had appeared to St. Bernadette.

One of the more personal aspects of the book is that Ficocelli also talks about her and her husband’s experiences of Lourdes and the feelings it evoked. She also spends some time talking about Venerable Pope John Paul II’s visit to the shrine.

 This is one of the few books in English that is accurate. Ficocelli did her research based on authentic sources and interviewed many people involved with the Lourdes shrine. The author had been asked by Paulist Press to write this book in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Mary at Lourdes. Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR wrote the foreword.

Ficocelli’s writing is very lively. The reader can feel the emotion and intensity she is writing with. Her book is very inspiring and a tremendous joy to read and ponder. It was hard to put down. Scholar and general reader will enjoy this book.

There are some black and white photos in the centerfold, endnotes, bibliography of books and websites, but no index.

This book is highly recommended to those interested in Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette.

Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., St. Gregory's University, Shawnee, Oklahoma.

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