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lourdesThe feast marks the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1858 to fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous near Lourdes in France within the cave of Massabielle.  There were eighteen apparitions in all, the last of which was on 16 July 1858.  The message of Lourdes is a call to personal conversion, prayer and charity.  In a special way, the shrine has become closely associated with the sick. February 11 is World Day of the Sick, an observation introduced by Pope John Paul II in 1992 as a way to offer prayers for those who are ill and their caregivers.

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