Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?



Peer Journal shows no evidence that anything unnatural was involved in Lourdes Miracles

Lourdes is in France. It nestles among the Pyrenees. In 1858, a destitute asthmatic child of thirteen, Bernadette Soubirous, claimed she saw the Virgin Mary in a cave at the dump of Massabielle eighteen times between the 11th of February and July 18th. Today Lourdes is renowned for its claimed miraculous healings.

There is incontestable proof that Bernadette saw nothing at all.

It is not that difficult to prove that Lourdes fails even the tests of the Catholic Church for a genuine heavenly visitation. Yet the Church gave it official approval.

The vision carried a rosary. Bernadette stated that the chain of the rosary was gold during the first vision. But she was too far away from the lady in the grotto to see that detail and would you have such an eye for detail during a seemingly magical experience? She stated she noticed the chain before she crossed the wide river to the grotto (page 35, The Appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Grotto of Lourdes). Some try to make out she noticed that detail in a later vision when she was closer and did not mean to give her account in strict chronological accuracy. She spoke chronologically all the time so there is no need to say she was not doing it here. She was required by the Church to do so. Christians have always tried to solve errors and contradictions in magical tales they want to believe in by making out that the person was not speaking in strict time order. Genesis 1 says God made man after the animals and Genesis 2 says he made the animals before. They solve the contradiction by pretending that Genesis 2 only looks chronological but actually is not. It is a ruse to cover up and dismiss contradictions. Too many people would have been claiming apparitions and then speaking about them non-chronologically to make it sound more truthful.  It is an excuse unless the speaker admits that she or he is not using strict chronology.

It is odd that the lady goes back into the rock instead of just vanishing (ibid. page 35). See also page 47 of Encountering Mary. She did not live in it and she was described as aquero by Bernadette which means that thing. It might be a word used of a ghost. There was no exit Bernadette would have known of. The real Virgin would either ascend or just vanish.
The frightening pallor of Bernadette of Lourdes during her visions does not match her claim that she saw a beautiful loving Virgin Mary.
Was the freethinker’s idea that the first vision was a trick by a girl posing as Mary correct? If you were not the Virgin you would have to vanish by hiding inside the cave. Perhaps the girl had a black blanket to hide under if it was hard to hide in the cave which would give the illusion of vanishing. This girl could have triggered Bernadette’s subsequent visions.

Bernadette said that she never saw anybody as beautiful as the lady (page 65, The Appearances of the Blessed Virgin etc). Surely, she can’t be that pretty? If she has a face then that face has to be matched by somebody’s in beauty. This attests for inauthenticity.

Bernadette said she had never seen anything like the material the vision’s dress was made of (Bernadette of Lourdes - Laurentin, page 14). Material is material so Bernadette certainly lied.  If the dress was glowing then Bernadette must have seen many forms of clothing that glowed in the sunlight. Bernadette wanted to sound very mysterious.

Bernadette said that the girl in the grotto was no bigger than herself (page 87, Mother of Nations). Yet she stated that the girl’s age was 16 or 17. Owing to malnutrition and poverty Bernadette was far too small for her thirteen years so she is contradicting herself about the girl’s age for she would have been eleven or twelve had she been Bernadette’s size. Bernadette saw nothing.
There are pictures of Bernadette a year or two later and which show that she was in the business of acting even then like she was in a mystic visionary trance. In the first picture, she looks upwards and seems to be holding up her rosary to some apparition. The pose is bizarre and can only be explained by somebody who in the guise of humility seeks fame and attention. She looks like somebody making a remarkable effort at simulating ecstasy.






It is not just the one photo either. The one below also has her looking up as if in a trance.


Bernadette encountered an extreme devotion from the people to her starting from the early visions. People adored her and kissed her and literally kissed the dirt she walked on (Encountering Mary, page 50). Yet she made no effort despite her well-vaunted humility to avoid this. She did not disguise herself or make some arrangement to avoid the people. The young lady craved the adulation and the attention.   


All schools of child psychology recognise that children and very young people can create objects and images in their mind and perceive them as if they are outside themselves.  An image in the head can be perceived as being a person or object outside the seer.  That is the power of their conscious and subconscious imagination.  Visions and Prophecies by Fr Karl Rahner is very informative on this subject.  C. M. Staehlin's experiment is discussed in this book.  He tested six boys aged from fifteen to eighteen.  He tried to see if he could make them see a vision of soldiers fighting above a tree in the sky through influencing them and suggestion.  Two boys failed to see anything.  Two saw the fighting soldiers.  The other two both saw the battle and heard the battle noises and the shouts.   Staehlin had prevented the boys from communicating and thus forming a story together.  Yet the subjects who saw the vision agreed in all essentials about what they saw. 

If some boys could do that imagine what lone Bernadette could do!


On March 25, 1858, the ghost in the grotto told Bernadette who she was. She said, “I am the Immaculate Conception”.

The Immaculate Conception is the doctrine that the Virgin was conceived in her mother’s womb without the sin of Adam staining her soul. You cannot say that you are the maculate conception or the Immaculate Conception any more than you can say, “I am birth”. Was the apparition not of the Virgin Mary but a symbol? A symbolic image sent by God could call itself the Immaculate Conception for it pictures that event. But the vision made Bernadette believe she was the Virgin Mary, a person not a symbol. So we see a contradiction. The apparition could have easily said, “I am the fruit of the immaculate conception”. Jesus said that he was the resurrection in the John Gospel but that was poetry for a poetic gospel. The lady of Lourdes would not have been poetic to an uneducated child and at such a solemn moment.

Jesus said that he was the resurrection meaning in the sense that he was the giver of life. It is a poetic way of saying what he is. But this would not allow Mary to say she was the Immaculate Conception for it is not saying what she is. It is identifying her with a past event. Being conceived immaculate does not mean one is immaculate now.
The nearly reliable sources tell us that Bernadette claimed that she did not know what the immaculate conception was. But they say she knew that it had a connection to Mary (page 125, The Appearances of the Blessed Virgin etc) suggesting she knew more than she was letting on and knew enough to make her pretend that the lady said she was the Immaculate Conception. Bernadette would have heard of the immaculate conception from the priest who stayed where she stayed in Bartres for the papal proclamation of the Immaculate Conception was big news in the Church and everywhere. She would have heard it in the chapel or heard prayers in its honour there. Prayers in its honour would have been and were said in her hearing at the grotto (page 124, ibid).
The miraculous medal devotion would have been popular among the people Bernadette talked to and prayed with. The prayer to Mary conceived without had to have been recited at the grotto by devotees to Mary when Bernadette was there. Bernadette said that when the lady told her her name she used the miraculous medal pose. Bernadette did know of the immaculate conception.
Bernadette would have asked what the Immaculate Conception was. She went to Mass on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. She certainly knew what lies to use to get people to believe her. The idea would have come to her from people who wanted the apparition to prove itself by revealing secrets that Bernadette would and could not know. She wanted the revelation of the lady’s identity to seem like supernatural knowledge.

The lady said, “Quy soi L’Immaculada Councepciou” as it is in the local dialect (page 40, Bernadette of Lourdes - Laurentin). Yet Bernadette called it coun-chet-sion only hours after the vision (page 125, The Appearances of the Blessed Virgin etc). So she knew the word but wasn’t able to pronounce it. Who could forget the pronunciation of such a great revelation of a great vision unless they never had a vision at all? Bernadette kept repeating what the lady said until she reached the priest (page 93, ibid). This makes it impossible for her to have forgotten the pronunciation later. Bernadette must have faked her ecstasy that took place during her vision for real ecstasy is so exciting that nothing can be forgotten. The Immaculate Conception came to her from her confused Bartres memories not from an apparition.

Did the lady say she was the immaculate something else and not the Immaculate Conception? Maybe she did and so she was not the Virgin.

The lady never promised cures but they are what Lourdes is famous for. Strange that there are no wooden legs lying about it. Why should we believe this lady that she is the Immaculate Conception even if she did say that?
The Church claimed to authenticate that Mary appeared to Bernadette at Lourdes in 1858. It did not. What it authenticated (leave aside the question about whether the authenticating is of any validity) was that Bernadette was having trances that couldn’t be explained by doctors and that a spring appeared and that healings took place. None of this proves that Bernadette really saw Mary. She might have lied or misunderstood. Or the vision might only have been pretending to be Mary. She may have went into a miraculous trance that affected her brain to make her imagine she saw the Virgin Mary. For the Church to say that it authenticated the apparitions of Mary at Lourdes is simply for it to lie. So here we have an extraordinary claim, that Mary appeared for which there is little evidence if you want to be generous. But the truth is there is NO evidence at all. So the miracles of Lourdes did nothing only support lies. We know that the stranger or more unlikely the claim, the evidence needs to be of a standard and strength to match the strangeness of the claim. The evidence needs to be in proportion to the level of unbelievableness of the claim. You don’t need the same evidence that Charlie met Annie at Loch Ness that you need to justify believing that Charlie saw the monster there. Lourdes and all the accepted Catholic apparitions deny this truth and so are evil and trying to drag us into superstition.
The Church used subterfuge and deception to declare the apparitions of Lourdes authentic.
Believing in God, PJ McGrath, Millington Books and Wolfhound, Wolfhound, Dublin, 1995
Bernadette of Lourdes, Rev CC Martindale, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1970
Bernadette of Lourdes, Fr Rene Laurentin, Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 1980
Counterfeit Miracles, BB Warfield, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1995
Eleven Lourdes Miracles, Dr D J West, Duckworth, London, 1957
Encountering Mary, Sandra L. Zimdars-Swartz, Princeton University Press, Princetown NJ, 1991 or Encountering Mary, Sandra Zimdars-Swartz, Avon, New York, 1991
Evidence for Satan in the Modern World, Leon Cristiani, TAN, Illinois, 1974
Looking For A Miracle, Joe Nickell, Prometheus Books, New York, 1993
Lourdes, Antonio Bernardo, A. Doucet Publications, Lourdes, 1987
Mother of Nations, Joan Ashton, Veritas, Dublin, 1988
Powers of Darkness Powers of Light, John Cornwell, Penguin, London, 1992
Spiritual Healing, Martin Daulby and Caroline Mathison, Geddes & Grosset, New Lanark, Scotland 1998
The Appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Grotto of Lourdes, JB Estrade, Art & Book Company Westminster, 1912
The Crowds of Lourdes, Joris Karl Huysmans, Burns Oates & Washbourne, London, 1925
The Evidence for Visions of the Virgin Mary, Kevin McClure, Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, 1985
The Jesus Relics, From the Holy Grail to the Turin Shroud, Joe Nickell, The History Press, Gloucestershire, 2008



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