7 Reasons to Watch Saturday’s Premiere of ‘Miracles of Lourdes’

This new film premiering Feb. 11 on EWTN treats us to a pilgrimage to Lourdes with its message, its inner workings and a fascinating surprise or two.

The Statue of Our Lady in the site of the apparitions in Lourdes, France
The Statue of Our Lady in the site of the apparitions in Lourdes, France (photo: Michael O’Neill)

The Shrine of Lourdes in France is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in the world. While the pilgrimage season is concentrated in only part of the year, anywhere from 4-6 million people arrive to pray and take part in the baths, the daily Eucharistic procession and the candlelight Rosary procession.

Pilgrims are drawn to southwestern France, and Lourdes specifically, because of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Bernadette and because of the remarkable miraculous healings that have taken place from the beginning in 1858.

Miracles of Lourdes, a new film from Miracle Hunter host Michael O’Neill, now takes all the millions who cannot get to France on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. The film premieres on EWTN television this Saturday, Feb. 11, the 165th anniversary of Lourdes, at 10 p.m. Eastern time. Here are 7 reasons to watch it.

Reason No. 1 — In docudrama fashion, the film brings to life the story of our Blessed Mother’s apparitions to St. Bernadette. In delicate short scenes explained with superb narration in place of dialogue, actors help us visualize the events. The bonus: these scenes take place mostly all in the places where they happened. We get a firsthand look.

Reason No. 2 — Absolutely beautiful filming takes us to places around Lourdes and its grounds and also into its basilicas and chapel. In a way, it becomes a private tour, even though there are people around, such as in the candlelight Rosary procession that keeps the feeling of viewers joining along with pilgrims. There are several aerial scenes, too, which give us different perspectives of the lovely grounds and the whole area around the shrine. It’s almost as if we were being flown there by angels.

“It’s a place where heaven touches earth, where the Mother of God walked among us,” says O’Neill, who hosts the film. We see why, and he adds, “Her visions, 18 in all, went on to change the Catholic world forever.”

Reason No. 3 — We learn fascinating facts that are often glossed over. For example, the original crypt church built at the request of the Virgin Mary seats only 100 and, of course, was known to St. Bernadette. But with the many people flocking to Lourdes the expansion now includes three basilicas plus several chapels.

Another fact: Bernadette was canonized by Pius XI on Dec. 8, 1933, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Remember that the Virgin Mary identified herself by saying, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Reason No. 4 — Msgr. Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, who is one of the four experts who are also interviewed and share their expertise on Lourdes, gives viewers some little-known yet specific details. One of them begins, “In 1862 when the bishop declared the apparitions to be authentic, it’s important to remember that he took ‘the two usual criteria for apparitions,’ which he lists, then continues, ‘but he added a third criterion …’ This criterion began to affect the way reported miracles were treated by the authorities. It’s an eye-opening introduction to what comes later.

Reason No. 5 — One of the interviewees is Dr. Alessandro de Franciscis, the president of the Office of Medical Observations at Lourdes. This Lourdes Medical Bureau is the only place in the world (other than the Vatican) that conducts such a thorough examination of reported miraculous healings.

We get to see and learn of the exceptional examinations and steps a large company of doctors take to declare a healing a miracle. We get to see what goes on in detail. We learn why such approvals been rare, with only four cases declared miraculous cures since the year 2000. And we also look at why so many of the hundreds of reported healings are eventually dropped. Hint: It’s not because they aren’t likely true.

Reason No. 6 — The film brings us in great detail the stories of three of the recent healings that have been approved as authentic miracles at Lourdes in this century. One is of a TV repairman. Another is of a wife of a doctor and mother of four. And the third is the latest healing declared a miracle, that of French Sister Bernadette Moriau, who is the oldest person cured miraculously and appears in the film herself.

Reason No. 7 — Ultimately, Miracles of Lourdes will strengthen us spiritually, gladden our hearts, help ease our burdens, strengthen our hopes and get us to turn to our Blessed Mother.