In 1856, Catherine Latapie fell from a tree and found herself paralyzed in her hand. When she was close to giving birth, she heard about the apparition of the Virgin in Lourdes, this town located a few kilometers from her home. Without hesitation, she goes there hoping for a miracle.
Lourdes , 1858. The inhabitants who go to the fields on this cool spring morning are surprised to come across a woman well advanced in her pregnancy on their way. She is holding the hands of two young children. The sun has barely risen and the little ones are yawning with sleep. So what is she doing here when she should be at home waiting for the first contractions? This woman is called Catherine Latapie. She asks for directions because she’s not from here. She lives a few kilometers away, in Loubajac, and wants to go to the Massabielle cave, where the Virgin made a spring appear a few weeks ago which is said to be healing. Indeed, one of his hands seems crippled.
The call of the source
A year and a half ago, Catherine fell from an oak tree while she was dropping acorns to feed her animals. Although her arm no longer has any after-effects, two fingers of her hand remained paralyzed, making her unfit for any task even though she is 38 years old. With five children soon, she wants to rediscover her former dexterity. A few days ago, she heard about the Massabielle spring.
And in the night, a strange feeling woke her up, urging her to go to the cave. So she woke up her two youngest children and walked seven kilometers to come. Finally, she arrives in Massabielle where there are already a lot of people. Fortunately, people let her pass given her pregnancy.
There, a young peasant woman is on her knees, looking at a fixed point in the cave. It was little Bernadette that the Blessed Virgin came to see. Catherine, like the others, holds her breath in the face of this strange atmosphere. She is not particularly devout, although she sometimes goes to mass. But at that moment, she prays and implores the Virgin to heal her.
She then goes to the back of the cave and dips her hand in a basin. Water and earth mingle, offering an ordinary appearance. Suddenly, Catherine feels her bent fingers relax.
A second miracle?
Catherine moves her fingers, confirming that she has regained her previous mobility. Moved to tears, Catherine’s first gesture was to join her hands to thank the Blessed Virgin. It was then that she felt a strong contraction. Immediately, she made a second request to the holy mother of God: to return home and give birth to her child in safety.
And, for the second time, his prayer is answered. The contractions stop and Catherine takes her children’s hands to head back to Loubajac. She travels without incident the seven kilometers which separate them from the Latapie home. Returning home just in time, she gives birth to a baby boy.
This extraordinary day was March 1, the day of the twelfth apparition. Catherine will name her son Jean-Baptiste, and he will become a priest. Catherine’s healing was officially recognized as the first miracle of Lourdes in 1862 by the Bishop of Tarbes.