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

The Vision of St. Bernard

Lady of Lourdes

Our Lady of Lourdes

Song of Bernadette

The Miracles of La Salette

A Song of La Salette

Ballade to Our Lady of Czestochowa

Spring at Lourdes

The Mystic Roses of Salette

Evening Falls on the Grotto

The Canticle of Bernadette

An Apparitions

Our Lady of La Salette

Ode to Mary

Our Lady of Guadalupe Poetry

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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