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Shelly Henley Kelly reviews a new book by Marlene Watkins that explains the process of visiting Lourdes in the hope of a miracle.

Everyday Miracles of Lourdes: Twenty Extraordinary Experiences Along the Way to the Grotto, written by Marlene Watkins, consists of true stories of individuals encountering the love of God through their experience at Lourdes.



Since 1858, more than 7,000 people reported miraculous events after bathing in the waters of Lourdes. Seventy of these events underwent a formal rigorous review to be declared an “official” recognized miracle. This book shares the testimonies of twenty-one miraculous events received by those serving or visiting Lourdes via the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospitality North American Volunteers organization.

Although I’m familiar with the Marian Apparition at Lourdes, and that people come from all over the world seeking miraculous healing at the Shrine, I’m completely unfamiliar with the logistics or process of visiting. Somehow, I’ve never thought about how people with disabilities and special needs travel there or what happens to them once they’ve arrived.

This book, Everyday Miracles of Lourdes, answers many of my questions. The first thing to know is that the word “hospitality” refers to The Hospitality of Our Lady of Lourdes, a Catholic public association founded in 1885. Volunteers come together each week from many countries to welcome, accompany, and assist thousands of pilgrims, especially those sick and disabled.

The first testimony of miraculous grace belongs to the author, Marlene Watkins. On Ascension Thursday, 2001, she promised Our Lady “to bring ten good Catholic American women” to serve as volunteers at Lourdes. A year later, with her promise fulfilled, she founded of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospitality North American Volunteers, the first Lourdes Hospitality in the Americas.

Each story stands alone and can be read individually, allowing you to sit with and ponder each unique encounter and healing. These stories stay with you long after you put the book down. Read about Jamie and you’ll never make the Sign of the Cross casually again without thinking of what it means. Appreciate Pancho’s revelation after this enthusiastic convert answers the call to volunteer. Two stories emerge from special pilgrimages dedicated to veterans of military service. In one, a WWII veteran finds peace and healing from the weight of war in a surprising manner. In the other, an active serviceman discovers his overseas “assignment” won’t be the beer-drinking fishing trip he anticipated.

In Everyday Miracles of Lourdes, each inspirational experience is lovingly shared in such a kind and gracious manner. All proceeds from the book support the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospitality North American Volunteers. In addition to financial donations, I expect they’ll also receive a flood of volunteer applications.

Ask for Everyday Miracles of Lourdes at your local Catholic bookseller, or preorder online from Amazon.com or the publisher, Sophia Institute Press. This book will be available March 20, 2023.



Copyright 2023 Shelly Henley Kelly
Images: Canva