Poems Dealing with Marian Apparitions
The poems in this collection give us a glimpse at the impact that Marian apparitions can have on the religious spirit of Christians. We present poems dealing with Marian apparitions at Lourdes and La Salette. We also include a poem which commemorates one of the earliest visionaries, St. Bernard. To some readers, the poems dealing with apparitions will facilitate some questions. First, what is an apparition? Second, what is the Church's response to reports of apparitions?

What is an Apparition?: Apparition is the technical term for an inexplicable appearance of someone, usually someone deceased. While there are instances in Church history of claims regarding apparitions of saints or of Jesus Christ, the most frequent claims are those involving the Blessed Virgin Mary. Reports of Marian apparitions date as far back as the earliest days of the Church. However, most of the historical accounts recorded in writing begin with the Middle Ages. From the Middle Ages on, as devotion to the Blessed Virgin became an evermore integral part of Catholic devotional life, word of apparitions has spread and given the Church hierarchy new challenges regarding the discernment of spirits. In all cases, the alleged supernatural character of a reported Marian apparition is not to be presumed; rather, it must be proven.
What is the Church's Response to Reports of Apparitions?: For the most part, the Church reserves judgement concerning the nature and truth of any particular apparition. In many cases, the Church itself will make no official pronouncement but will allow the local Catholic magisterium, under the leadership of the bishop, to test the truth of and respond most appropriately to reports of apparitions. Each claim is checked by the local bishop, who may also appoint a commission to study the situation. While some apparitions have been recognized by the Church as authentic, such recognition does not mean that belief in the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary at a particular place and time is binding on all Catholics. It means only that the Church does not regard belief in the apparition to be misguided or harmful to the faithful.
Main Point: Though significant for piety and devotion, apparitions play a small role in Catholic theology as a whole. They are understood merely as aids to the worship of God, from whom all such supernatural graces are derived. Further, they must never be seen as contradicting or replacing God's revelation in the person and life of Jesus. Nonetheless, we should be aware that reports of apparitions constitute still another "sign of the times" which serves to remind us that God is still active in our lives and calling all of us to repentance and obedience to the Church.
Be sure to check out our site links for more detailed information concerning Marian apparitions:

  • Apparitions of the Past -- A Statistical Study
  • Directory of Twentieth-century Apparitions
  • Norms and Process for Discerning Apparitions.

    Index of Poems Dealing with Marian Apparitions


    The Vision of St. Bernard

    Bernard reads late, alone; and twilight falls
    Dimming the page. Soon must the keen eyes probe
    Vainly for words ... But whence has spread
    This glow illuminating his cloister's walls
    To stretch them to horizons past our globe?
    What hand - divinely pure - is on his book?

    He knew her by the light about her head,
    And by the cloak of heaven that she wore -
    But more
    He knew her by her grave regardful look.

    So stood she that swift shining moment through,
    Her hand still touching where St. Bernard read
    Of truth unchanged in changing time or place;
    The while a corner of her mantle blue
    Was folded round an earth child, and his face
    Shone in the glory compassing her head.

    M. Whitcomb Hess
    Sr. M. Therese. I Sing of a Maiden.
    New York: Macmillan Company, 1947.


    Lady of Lourdes

    Untouched by Adam's curse - our Mary's soul! Like great bell tones the Pontiff's edict rings -
    While every heart on earth re-sounds the word,
    And all earth sings.

    Comely she stands before a shy young girl
    Who tells her Ave, trembling to await
    The bright air broken by a word - "I am
    Immaculate!"

    O happy cave, majestic rock that felt
    Her feet press lightly as they do in dream,
    Whence waters brimmed with healing break their source,
    And with life, stream.

    From every countryside and city square
    A troop of pilgrims crowds upon the way:
    Some come to kneel in child-eyed wonderment,
    Some come to pray.

    She dries her children's tears as mothers do,
    And pours a draught of grace from prayer-cupped hands,
    That each may journey back refreshed and glad
    To better lands.

    O Virgin, let thy fleet compassion's spark
    Light up the murky paths we stumble on;
    Give us the warmth of thy embrace when earth's
    Cold pain is gone.

    All song and glory to our Father rise
    And to the Christhead (Mary's Only Son!)
    With Their swift Spirit winged with love for Both,
    Three-always-One!

    Raymond F. Roseliep, translator.
    Sr. M. Therese. I Sing of a Maiden.
    New York: Macmillan Company, 1947.


    Our Lady of Lourdes

    Here, lovely gems, King Winter throws
    On bramble, weed, and stone,
    And trailing seared bleak wild-rose
    Around Our Lady's throne.

    Beneath small Lourdes gray-blue sky
    Cool February's airs
    Encanopied in ether high
    All serve as courtiers.

    While Bernadette kneels on the ground
    Where Heaven's luster gleams
    On solemn quiet all around
    And meadow's ice-bound streams.

    The Peasant is emparadised
    With vision on the sod -
    The Mother of our loving Christ
    All luminous - from God.

    "My child, Immaculate I am,"
    She said to Bernadette,
    "And truly Mother of God's Lamb
    Whose blood dyed Olivette."

    In loving sympathy, your Queen,
    From Paradise, through thee
    Bequeaths this sparkling water stream
    To heal humanity.

    Francesca Brennan
    Cyril Robert. Our Lady's Praise in Poetry.
    Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1944.


    Song of Bernadette

    Immaculate Mother, Queen of Peace,
    Would your children might recall
    The Rosary Song of Bernadette,
    The loving care you have for all.

    For the scourge of war is not lightened
    By the tears and lamenting of men;
    Only prayer, repentance, atonement,
    Can ever bring peace again.

    So enfold in your Rosary Crusade
    All your war-torn children today -
    The sinful, suffering, despondent,
    Dear Mother, please help us to pray.

    Then take all our Ave Marias
    To the Sacred Heart of your Son;
    And plead with Him, dear Mother,
    That Peace on earth may come.

    Immaculate Mother, Queen of Peace,
    Awaken in the hearts of men
    Devotion to your Son and thee -
    The Song of Bernadette again.

    Bernice Gleason Grant
    Cyril Robert. Our Lady's Praise in Poetry.
    Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1944.


    The Miracles of La Salette

    All who invoked her, kneeling at her shrine
    Or looking towards her from some far-off land,
    Soon felt the virtue of her gracious hand
    Or learnt before the cross their wills incline.
    But still more pilgrims came here to beseech
    For greater cure - that of a wayward heart
    Intent on nobler ways and brave new start,
    For strength to make with past a lasting breach.
    Of these two signs say which more wonderful -
    Some portents wrought before our spell-bound eyes
    Or rather inward victories of grace?
    If such of things divine the measured rule,
    Conceive what unsung glory hidden lies
    In the mute annals of this hallowed place.

    James P. O'Reilly, M.S.
    Cyril Robert. Our Lady's Praise in Poetry.
    Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1944.


    Ode to Mary

    O Blessed Mary
    Immaculate Virgin
    Most holy and pure
    free of all sin

    Mother of God
    and all mankind
    Loving and gentle
    sweet and kind

    Full of grace
    and merciful
    Perpetual help
    and prayerful

    Our Lady of Sorrows
    so sorrowful
    Soul eternally spotless
    so beautiful

    Messenger of God
    our intercessor
    Perfect human
    our protector

    To save mankind
    reveal Your faces
    at Knock, Tre-Fontane
    and other places

    At La Salette
    and at Pontmain
    At Rue du Bac
    and at Beauraing

    Lady of Carmel
    and Guadalupe
    Lady of Fatima
    and Medjugorje

    Lady of the Rosary
    and of Lourdes' Shrine
    Lily of the Valley
    Torch of Love sublime

    Cape of Juan Diego
    Song of Bernadette
    Miracle at Fatima
    the world dare not forget

    Queen of Peace
    and of Heaven above
    Queen of Earth
    And Queen of Love

    You gave us the grace
    of First Saturday
    And specially taught us
    the rosary to pray

    Please help us convert
    and help us to pray
    To open our hearts
    to do penance each day

    To love one another
    and do every good deed
    To respond from our hearts
    Your teachings to heed

    Draw us ever closer
    to Your Divine Son
    That we may become holy
    and our hearts become one

    For you are the Handmaid
    of the Lord
    You live eternally
    according to His Word.

    Peter Heintz
    A Guide to Apparitions. Part I.
    Sacramento: Gabriel Press, 1995.


    Ballade to Our Lady of Czestochowa

    Lady and Queen of Mystery manifold
    And very Regent of the untroubled sky,
    Whom in a dream St. Hilda did behold
    And heard a woodland music passing by:
    You shall receive me when the clouds are high
    With evening and the sheep attain the fold.
    This is the faith that I have held and hold.
    And this is that in which I mean to die.

    Steep are the seas and savaging and cold
    In broken waters terrible to dry;
    And vast against the winter night the world,
    And harbourless for any sail to lie.
    But you shall lead me to the lights, and I
    Shall hymn you in a harbour story told.
    This is the faith that I have held and hold,
    And this is that in which I mean to die.

    Help the half-defeated, House of Gold,
    Shrine of the sword, and Tower of Ivory;
    Splendour apart, supreme and aureoled,
    The Battler's vision and the World's reply.
    You shall restore me, O my last Ally,
    To vengeance and the glories of the bold.
    This is the faith that I have held and hold,
    And this is that in which I mean to die.

    Prince of the degradations, bought and sold,
    These verses, written in your crumbling sty,
    Proclaim the faith that I have held and hold
    And publish that in which I mean to die.

    Hillaire Belloc


    A Song of La Salette

    On flower-enamelled peak of Dauphine
    The lilting voice of nature's Mistress rings,
    And quickly a sweet water-music springs
    From streamlet sadly mute until this day.
    Nature unfolds a carpet blue and green
    Before this light which makes the sun to pale,
    Forget-me-not, blue gentian, violet frail,
    A color-rhapsody sing to their Queen.

    All round, the vast and snow-capped mountains
    rise
    Like stairs that beckon to eternal halls;
    Beyond the birds and trees their purple walls
    Go steeply up into the noonday skies.
    Below, the cataracting torrents lead
    Down craters dense with fir and silver pine;
    On sloping meadows browse the peaceful kine,
    The fertile loam lies harrowed for the seed.

    O pilgrim! Stand, admire this vast creation,
    This great cathedral built by Master-hand
    And placed in wildness terrible and grand;
    Ah! Well our Lady chose this tranquil isolation
    To wean us from all worldly dissipation
    And make us sigh for our true home and land!

    James P. O'Reilly, M.S.
    Cyril Robert. Our Lady's Praise in Poetry.
    Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1944.


    Spring at Lourdes

    In the clefts of the rock the dove,
    In the hollows of the wall
    The beautiful one, my love,
    Comely, slender, and tall.

    The flowers at last in our land -
    Sandaling slim white feet,
    The voice of the turtle, and
    A voice that is strange and sweet.

    Here let the heart abide,
    For winter is over and done
    Where Heaven is opened wide
    On a woman clothed with the sun.

    Sr. Mary St. Virginia
    Cyril Robert
    Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine.
    Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1946.


    The Mystic Roses of Salette

    Amongst her ornaments, the children told
    Of roses, oh! So richly hued and bright,
    That fringed Our Lady's diadem of gold
    And graced her fairest brow. Fine threads of light
    Shone from their centres, flames that upward streamed
    Like incense in a sun-gilt fane. Across
    Her white cape, too, a chain of roses gleamed,
    And round her shoes they weaved their shimmering
    gloss.
    Mystical roses, these! And symbols all
    Of fervent rosaries her clients thread,
    And of the Aves from their lips that fall
    As petals for her maiden feet to tread;
    Their rosaries, as flowery crowns, adorn
    With love's devotion to her who came to mourn.

    James P. O'Reilly, M.S.
    Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine.
    Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1946.


    Evening Falls on the Grotto

    The molten sun was setting
    Through a heavy woodland screen,
    And fair, among the beams of light,
    Stood a grotto of Our Queen.

    Around her head a diadem
    With jewels was shining bright,
    The jewels were warm as little stars,
    The same as light the night.

    Her face gave forth a radiance,
    That filled my soul with love,
    Her eyes were raised towards Heaven
    And the tinted skies above.

    Her hands were hanging by her side -
    They gave a wondrous glow,
    The beams that fell were graces
    She has obtained for us below.

    The sun has set, the moon is up,
    The scene is still the same -
    Symbol of her who does not change
    Towards those who call her name.

    Mary Moffitt
    Cyril Robert
    Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine.
    Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1946.


    The Canticle of Bernadette

    'Tis near the noonday on Massabielle
    When the rock will resound to the Angelus bell.

    A maiden of Lourdes from the old mountain town
    Goes gathering driftwood the Gave may bring down.

    No wind in the poplars, no sound in the hills -
    A sudden breath passes, and Bernadette thrills.

    What vision beams yonder? The green - ivied grot
    Enshrineth such glory as mortals know not.

    Oh, fairer than queens is this Queen undefiled,
    Who tenderly smiles on the shepherdess child.

    God's angels have garbed her in white robe and veil;
    Beside her blue girdle the blue sky looks pale.

    A rosary gleams in her fingers so fair;
    The fine gold is beaded with jewels most rare.

    Gold roses of Eden her white feet adorn,
    For Mary remaineth the Rose without thorn.

    Fifteen times Bernadette kept her pilgrimage tryst
    With Mary, the mild maiden - Mother of Christ.

    "Oh, pray for poor sinners, do penance and pray!"
    What sorrow the tones of Our Lady betray!"

    "Go wash in the well-spring," said Mary - "and drink,
    And taste of the wild herb that grows by the brink."

    Oh, strange! When the child digs a hole in the ground,
    At the touch of her fingers well-waters abound.

    At Lady-Day dawning the secret is told -
    "In me the Immaculate Conception behold!"

    All hail to thee, Mary, God's beautiful one,
    Who gave to the world God's own holy Son.

    Cyril Robert
    Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine.
    Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1946.


    An Apparition

    "A sign was seen in heaven; a Woman stood;
    beneath her feet the moon." That waning moon
    'Neath yonder pictured apparition curved,
    Is time there dying with his dying months;
    The Spirit showed that Vision to Saint John
    Exiled in Patmos Isle. The best beloved
    Deserved such solace best.

    Aubrey De Vere
    Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine.
    Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1946.


    Our Lady of La Salette

    Two Shepherd Children once of long ago
    Espied as in a Dream - all ray'd in Light
    One - bowed deep in prayer - and weeping there.

    "Who could the Lady be, so sad, so fair?"
    They thought within themselves,
    "What brings her here?"
    Than at their wondering prayer - the Lady spoke!

    At the sweet accents, gathering close - all rapt -
    They gazed upon the tender smile of winning grace!
    Who knows, but what they saw - Another's Face
    Therein reflected ! E'en the Face of God?

    The Lady spoke! "None go to Mass to pray!
    But spend God's Sabbath in useless, idle way!
    Blaspheme! - E'en take His Holy Name in vain!

    "Fain do I pray - I stay His Arm
    And ask the world shall know no harm!
    Who disobey His Rule.

    "My children! You your prayers must say!
    One Pater, Ave, night and day!
    And if the world converted be
    God's goodness it shall shortly see."

    The Shepherds pondered every word
    Of the Sorrowing Mother of Our Lord!
    Yet knew not She was Mary Mild
    Who gave us the Holy Child.

    Sweet roses play'd on rainbow'd Light
    As on Her gown all colors danc'd!
    While on Her breast - a gold Cross gleam'd!
    The Holy Sign of Christ's Redeemed.

    Yet not alone the Cross - but chains!
    The Hammer and Tongs of cruel pains
    Upon Our Mother's breast they lay!
    Sad tokens, on that happy day!

    Then as Our Lady bid Goodbye,
    And again assumed was to the sky
    She said "This to my People make ye known
    And bid them kneel at Mercy's Throne."

    Ferne M. Montague
    Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine.
    Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1946.

     


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