Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Swallows of Lourdes

HERE IS A MARVELOUS picture of the candlelight procession that forms each night at Lourdes where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette eighteen times in 1858.  As the light-procession gets underway, many dozens of swallows appear, flying over the great gathering. No mystical claim is being made. Someone will say, "Oh, the swallows are only interested in the bugs drawn to the light." So. That should never keep us from acknowledging the beauty of it, and what we might realize underneath, so to speak. 

The swallows seem to be stitching heaven and earth together - repairing the spiritual tear opened by the world's hatreds and failures in justice and love. My sister pilgrim-ed with us in 2004, working at the Accueil Notre Dame, the hostel for the sick. At the end of her trip she wrote this poem called a waka (following a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable pattern).

The Saint's foot-path snakes
in candle-light procession - -
Cathedral swallows
drop from the sky -- their soft 'whoosh',
breath between Hail, Holy Queens

Karen Morris ~ July '04


  1. Even if the Swallows are only there for their nightly snack, the beauty of nature cannot be denied. They descend upon the earth carrying blessings from above. It is an endless circle of giving.

  2. Christians see the swallow as a symbol of sacrifice and rebirth, as well as a symbol for new beginnings and hope. Maybe this is why the Swallows are a presence at Lourdes, resonating the hope for healing that many people bring there.

  3. I will be visiting Lourdes for the first time, in a few months. As a child, I found Mary so easy to love, the many devotions and stories told to us by the priests, sisters and grandmothers were wonderful and so strengthened our faith. This beautiful picture of Lourdes fills me with such excitement to know I will be participating in that. I will be going to ask Mary many favors but I can't wait to be in the place Mary choose to visit.