If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
The Catholic Church has not told you the whole truth about Bernadette's
visions at Lourdes
Book extracts this research are from:
Outbreak!: The Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Social Behavior: http://www.amazon.com/Outbreak-Encyclopedia-Extraordinary-Social-Behavior/dp/1933665254
The Church argues that Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary during a series of apparitions at a grotto in Lourdes, France in 1858.
As you will see, the Church arbitrarily chose Bernadette as the only true visionary at the grotto of Lourdes. Though nobody else reported visions along with Bernadette, she had competition. And some of the competition was good. Josephine Albario was one alleged visionary and the well-loved and respected Marie Courrech was another. The latter is as convincing as Bernadette if not better. Her account was very similar - even down to the urge to go to see the vision at the grotto.
This shows that either the Church was being dishonest and strategic or incompetent.
It casts doubt on the value of its research and objectivity.
Estrade the respected writer about the visions noted how Bernadette's story got special treatment.
Marie had to be kept one time from falling into the river and drowning. Catholics argue that this shows her visions were from Satan. But the accounts don't say she endangered herself on purpose! And what about Bernadette putting rotting infected matter into her mouth in the quest for the spring the lady told her to drink from? The lady did not stop her from degrading herself but watched her.
Believers argue that the other visionaries were deluded or fake. But they just assume this instead of weighing the pros and cons. Why? The other visionaries give evidence that there may have been magical but malevolent forces at work.
Bernadette herself said that during an apparition, "I was not afraid to die, but I was terrified by the voices coming from the back of the grotto. They were evil voices clashing in a guttural, angry way. Save yourself, get out of here, they shrieked. The Lady raised her eyes, frowned at where the voices were,—and there was peace."
Bernadette told lies. "Bewildered, I looked across the mill-stream to a niche above a cave in the rock of Massabielle. A rosebush on the edge of the niche was swaying in the wind. It was all that moved. All else was still. A golden cloud came out of the cave and flooded the niche with radiance. Then a lady, young and beautiful, exceedingly beautiful, the like of whom I had never seen, stood on the edge of the niche. She smiled and smiled at me, beckoning me to come closer as though she were my mother, and she gave me to understand in my soul that I was not mistaken. The Lady was dressed in white, with a white veil on her head, and a blue sash at her waist. A Rosary of white beads on a golden chain was on her right arm. On that cold winter's day, her feet were bare, but on each foot was a golden rose radiant with the warmth of summer." That account of the first vision does not match her earliest accounts of how she saw a white thing like a girl and she called it the thing.
A visionary called Marie Bernard saw entities make indecent gestures in the grotto.
After a vision he had, a lad "went into a bedroom and started climbing up the curtains of the bed, with hideous grimaces: he was grinding or gnashing his teeth, and his eyes had a wild look."