April 14, 2014
Students studying at the University of Mary Rome campus this semester brought their classroom to Lourdes, France, last week. Lourdes, known for its exceptional beauty, is also where the Most Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 - and the subsequent miraculous healings at the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.
|University of Mary Rome students in front of the Our Lady of Lourdes shrine and grotto |
|Dr. de Franciscis Visiting with University of Mary Students in Lourdes, France|
Appropriately, it is where University of Mary students met up with well-known Dr. Alessandro de Franciscis - head of the Lourdes Medical Bureau.
Dr. de Franciscis holds the prestigious position of overseeing the institution responsible for the medical documentation that officially states the healings in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Dr. de Franciscis is the 15th physician to oversee the Lourdes Medical Bureau. Since 1883, the Bureau has investigated nearly 7,000 cases of medical cures that defy scientific explanation. Of those, 69 have been declared miracles by the Catholic Church, the most recent coming in June 2013.
"Coming from the university with the Holy Mother's namesake makes the visit to Lourdes and the encounter with Dr. de Franciscis even more special for our students studying at the University of Mary Rome campus," commented Tom Schulzetenberg, director of the University of Mary Rome Campus Program. "The overall purpose of the trip is a pilgrimage to the Shrine, to learn the history of Lourdes, St. Bernadette, the visions, and to experience the place through both active and passive participation - praying, volunteering and learning."
The University of Mary students have the privilege of taking several trips during their semester stay at the Rome campus. This trip to Lourdes, however, is not an academic excursion, but an optional one that is intended as a spiritual pilgrimage. Schulzetenberg says the Lourdes trip is a tradition begun by University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea, who started the Rome campus.
University of Mary students who made the pilgrimage from the Rome campus to Lourdes are Aron Castro, Walla Walla, WA, Emily Gaudreau, Great Falls, MT, Andrea Gleiter, Oregon, IL, Anthony Hagen, Excelsior, MN, Janelle Hartford, Walla Walla, WA, Annie Hinnenkamp, Shoreview, MN, Catherine Joshu, Great Falls, MT, Ethan Kaste, Grafton, ND, Dominic King, Aberdeen, SD, Laura Kopp, Chippewa Falls, WI, Karli Mann, Dickinson, ND, Ashley Voeller, Minot, ND, and Catherine Zebroski, Pine River, MN.
"Our time in Lourdes in itself was a wonderful opportunity to see one of the most famous Marian shrines, but it was also a special place to see the intersection of science and faith," added Schulzetenberg. "We learned about the Bureau of Medicine, and the work they do in investigating cures, and the process whereby some of them are verified as miracles. Dr. de Franciscis calls himself ‘a useless doctor' because he sees people who are already cured from illnesses, while most doctors seek to heal those who are sick. Our Lady of Lourdes - the Immaculate Conception - continues to shower God's graces upon those who come to her for help and seek her intercession. Our students were able to see that in action: thousands of pilgrims (a train of sick kids, in particular) come to pray in the grotto and bathe in the water. Perhaps one of the more touching moments of our time was the candlelight procession on Saturday night, where we took part in a rosary procession with thousands of others, each carrying a candle in the dark. Each candle on its own is but a little light in the dark, but the thousands of faithful made the whole grounds glow. Combined with the spiritually charged atmosphere, the singing of Ave Maria, and praying the rosary in several languages, it was an experience that we will not soon forget!"
Dr. de Franciscis tweeted about his visit with the University of Mary students https://twitter.com/a_defranciscis and included a photo.