Praying for the sick


5 Apr 2021

The feast day for St Bernadette, the patron saint of illness is 16 April. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage communities we pray for all those who are sick and their caregivers.

Correspondence from friends and family in various places throughout Europe have brought home more than the daily news bulletins, the worldwide nature of the Covid-19 pandemic. Their experiences of isolation and lockdown, and the ways in which they have coped with the same, mirror experiences we have had on this side of the world.

While summer and the much lower numbers of affected in Australia give us cause to be grateful, worldwide we all wait for the promise of a more ‘normal’ life once vaccines become available and are distributed.

This need for vaccines, however, shows how much our world is interconnected. For them to be effective in helping us to return to our way of life of easy travel and get-togethers they need to be universal. There is little point in looking after our immediate community and letting others fend for themselves.

Pope Francis consistently emphasises the issue of the interconnectedness of people and our world in his sermons and encyclicals Laudato si’ and Fratelli Tutti.

A young woman who spent her life praying for the sick and the frail is remembered on 16 April – the feast day of St Bernadette. St Bernadette is the patron saint of those who are ill. Bernadette Soubirous who was born in Lourdes on 7 January 1844. She was 14 when she had numerous visions of the Virgin Mary. After interviews by the French government and Church authorities it was confirmed that she spoke the truth.

A chapel was built at the site of her visions and now the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is a major Catholic pilgrimage site –

In 1866 joined the Sisters of Charity. She worked as an infirmary assistant and later a sacristan. However, she suffered consistent ill health, eventually being diagnosed with tuberculosis and died at the age of 35 on 16 April, 1879. She was proclaimed a saint on 8 December 1933.


Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes,
You appeared in the hollow of the rock of Massabielle
to Bernadette, a small and simple shepherdess from Bigorre.
You brought her the radiant light of your smile,
the gentle, resplendent brightness of your presence.
Day by day, you built a relationship with her
where you looked at her like one person talking to another.
We, too, come here before you in our poverty, and we humbly pray to you.
May those who doubt discover the joy of trust,
nay those who despair sense your discreet presence.

Our Lady of Lourdes,
you revealed your name to Bernadette
by simply saying ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’.
May we discover the joy of a forgiveness that never falters,
instil in us the desire for a rediscovered innocence and a joyful holiness.
Help the blinded sinner.
You who gave birth to the Saviour of the world,
look tenderly on our beautiful but tragic world.
Open in us the path of hope,
guide us to the One who is the Living Source,
Jesus, your Son, who teaches us to say

[From the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes website]

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