World Day of Prayer for the Sick
As such, February 11, the anniversary of the first of eighteen apparitions of the Blessed Mother to St Bernadette, is both the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of Prayer for the Sick.
This year, the Holy Father Pope, Benedict XVI, has granted a plenary indulgence to all who participate in the Mass for the XIV World Day of the Sick, to be held this year in Adelaide, Australia, and to those who participate in a similar ceremony that day "at any other place decided by the ecclesiastical authorities." A plenary indulgence is also granted to health-care personnel whose duties make it impossible for them to attend ceremonies for the World Day of the Sick, and to sick people who cannot attend the ceremonies, if they pray for the welfare of the sick on that day, and fulfill the ordinary conditions as soon as they are able. Most of us will be unable to do this so the Pope has granted a partial indulgence, with the usual conditions, to anyone who prays for the sick on the days surrounding the World Day of the Sick, February 9 to 11.
A beautiful hymn in honour of today's memorial is found in the old Dominican Breviary which deserves to be more widely known and sung. As such, I offer the following translation of Omnis expertem maculae Mariam in the hope that this may be accomplished:
Free from all stain, immaculate is Mary!
So the Church teaches, faith's supreme exponent;
All Christian peoples triumph of the Virgin
Showing herself to simple lowly maiden,
Mary, blest Virgin, cheers the fearful gazer,
And with lips holy, then proclaims her title,
Cave surely favoured, honoured by the vision
Of God's own Mother granted in thy precincts!
Rock aye revered, whence life's healing waters
Gushed forth in full spring.
Hither the pious sons of France come trooping,
Hither from far lands stranger bands are hasting,
Suppliant pilgrims, all, thine aid imploring,
Virgin most potent.
Mother, her needy children's tears perceiving,
Grants to the sickly health so long desired;
Their wish obtaining, pilgrims wend their footsteps
To their own borders.
Pity our lot here, humbly pray we; Virgin,
Still be our helper, cheer us in our labours,
Till thou procure us, sad hearts, gift of gladness,
Unto the Father and the Sole-Begotten
Son, may be glory, and to Thee, O Spirit,
Equal of each, in power ever-during,
One God for ever. Amen.