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Betsy had never been to Paris before and she couldn’t wait to see the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine! But more than anything Betsy loved trains and couldn’t wait to go to Lourdes. Lourdes meant a long train ride. A very long train ride—almost five hours! She and her family departed from the enormous Montparnasse gare (station) in Paris to travel to this faraway southwest corner of France at the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains.  And this is what Betsy learned while she was at Lourdes—


Feb. 11, 1858: It was an icy cold winter day in Lourdes, a town in the southwest of France. Bernadette and her desperately poor family had run out of firewood. They would freeze! “We need wood at once!” said Madame Soubourous to her oldest child, 14-year-old Bernadette. “I’ll go right away, Mama!” said Bernadette and immediately Bernadette, her younger sister Toinette, and their friend Jeanne, set off to gather firewood for the family.

As Bernadette was getting ready to cross the small river Gave she heard a rustling sound. A stirring. But what was it? It was like a strong wind. But the trees weren’t moving, not even a bit. To her astonishment, she saw a beautiful young woman in the grotto at Massabeille. The woman was smiling at her!

“I saw a lady dressed in white, with a blue sash and a yellow rose on each foot. She was holding a Rosary. I thought I must be making a mistake!” said Bernadette. “I took my Rosary out of my pocket and began to pray the Rosary.” The Lady said the Rosary too but said it silently. Only when they reached the Glory Be did the Lady say the prayer aloud. When Bernadette finished the Rosary the Lady disappeared.

The second time Bernadette saw the Lady at the grotto she sprinkled holy water when Our Lady appeared! “The Lady smiled at this,” recounted Bernadette. She asked Bernadette to come to the grotto 15 more times and to bring a blessed candle with her. Bernadette noticed that the Lady always had a Rosary with her! She asked Bernadette to pray for poor sinners and to do penance for them. “Penance! Penance! Penance!” she urged. She also asked that the clergy build a chapel and encourage the faithful to come in processions. At the 9th apparition the Lady directed Bernadette to discover a miraculous spring. On March 25, the Lady announced her identity: “I am the Immaculate Conception” she said.

Bernadette (1844-1879) became a nun at the age of 22. She died at the age of 34 and, incredibly, her body was found to be incorrupt thirty years later! She is buried at her convent in Nevers, France. Bernadette’s feastday is April 16, the day she died. Coincidentally, Pope Benedict XVl was born on April 16 and he has had a special devotion to her all his life. Bernadette was canonized a saint by Pope Pius Xl in 1933.

Today Lourdes is one of the most famous Marian shrines in the world attracting millions of visitors each year. And the miraculous spring of water at Lourdes is still flowing bringing spiritual and physical healings to many. Thousands upon thousands of sick people come to Lourdes each year in hope of a cure. Countless numbers of volounteers come from all over the world to help them. “Many even give up their vacations to do so!” marvelled Betsy. The feastday of Our Lady of Lourdes is Feb. 11.














  1. The Basilica
  2. The Grotto where Our Lady first appeared to Bernadette
  3. The interior of Bernadette’s childhood home.
  4. Pilgrims photographing Bernadette’s childhood home.
  5. The River Gave by the Basilica and the Grotto. Click on the photo to see the throngs of pilgrims!
  6. Volounteers at Lourdes. Don’t you love their smart French berets?





FRANCISCAN FRIAR: Finger puppet from a glove

Make a Franciscan friar FINGER PUPPET from a tan glove! It is so very easy to make—and almost no-sew. Only the robe has to be gathered by hand at the neck. The rest is all glued. Follow the photo directions for making this finger puppet.


His collar is made from a 2″(5cm) circle, cut in half. You will only need the one half of the circle. Cut a small indentation for the neck at the middle of the circle half. Fit around the friar’s neck and glue in place. All hems can be glued. It is best to use felt or fleece because no hems are needed at all. His tonsure is made from a strip of yarn. And the arms are bendable! Find out how below!

Although the directions below do mention sewing you can glue the entire figure (except for the neck which must be sewn with a gathering stitch).


Welcome to TRAVELS WITH BETSY! For our first travelogue we will be visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. In future we will be visiting Lourdes and Fatima and many other important centres of Catholic pilgrimage. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of Betsy’s favourite places “anywhere.” Betsy will be wearing a different outfit for each trip! In the next episodes you will meet Florence, Betsy’s cat. Betsy claims that Florence is just about the smartest cat in the entire world! In another episode you will get to meet Betsy’s beloved dolly. Can you guess what her name might be?

But now, let us begin with the wonderful story of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

After the Spanish Conquest by Hernan Cortez in 1519, Franciscan missionaries from Spain began to stream into Mexico so that they could teach the people in this new land about the Christian faith. One of these indigenous people was Juan Diego. He was one of the first people to be baptized in the New World. He loved learning about Jesus and His Mother, Mary, and became a fervent Catholic!

One Saturday morning (a day devoted to Our Lady) on December 9, 1531, Juan was walking to Mass, when—to his astonishment—a beautiful Lady appeared to him. She told him that she was his heavenly Mother and that she would always love and protect him. She asked him to go to the bishop and have a church built.  After Juan spoke to the bishop about the astonishing encounter he had had with the Mother of God, the bishop told Juan to ask the Lady for a sign to prove that She had really appeared to him. On December 12 Juan received his miraculous sign: When he presented the bishop with the miraculous roses (that Our Lady had provided for him), immediately, before the bishop’s very eyes, an image of Our Lady imprinted itself on Juan Diego`s cloak. The bishop was stunned! All the people in the room knelt down before the sacred image and cried out, milagro! milagro! (miracle, miracle).

Within 10 years of this event 7 million Indians converted to the Christian faith. Today, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is the most visited shrine in the world. Millions come to see this same image of Our Lady that was imprinted on Juan`s tilma (cloak). That this image is still intact is a miracle in itself. The delicate fibres should have disintegrated within 30 years! The colours should have faded within an even shorter time. But, all these years later, the image looks brand-new!

Juan Diego was canonized by Pope St. John Paul ll in 2002. On this momentous occasion millions of Mexicans lined the streets of the city to pay homage to their beloved Pope John Paul ll. St. Juan’s feastday is Dec. 9. Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feastday is Dec. 12.

And over the main portal of the basilica is this moving message: AM I NOT HERE, I WHO AM YOUR MOTHER? And here, in the Basilica of OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE, you will find an actual picture of your heavenly Mother! Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas and the Patroness of the Pro-Life Movement.





  1. The chapel at the top of Tepeyac Hill where Our Lady first appeared to Juan Diego.
  2.  The actual image of Our Lady of Guadalupe inside the Basilica.
  3. The Old Basilica. It is now a museum and is close to the New Basilica.
  4. The New Basilica.
  5. On the way up, up, up Tepeyac Hill. It is a long climb!
  6. A statue of Pope St. John Paul ll on the grounds of the Basilica.


And now you can make the paper doll of Betsy with her new blue dress. This is the dress she wore to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Copy the pattern for the doll onto cardstock paper. For the clothing copy the pattern onto lighter paper. Cut out the doll and clothing and colour. Now the fun begins!

2. HOW TO MAKE A SATURNO HAT (from a plastic egg)

Make a Saturno hat in a few minutes by using a plastic Easter egg as the crown. Pick one egg and then match paper or cardstock to that colour to make the brim of the hat. Many popes have worn Saturno hats. Pope Benedict often wore a red one when he was travelling around Rome!




To make the Saturno hat, follow the directions below for making a sombrero. The directions are identical except that the Saturno uses the rounded (not the pointed) half of the Easter egg. A narrow ribbon or paper band completes the hat.


6. FRANCISCAN BOOK MARKS (wooden spoons)

These easy bookmarks are made from wooden ice cream spoons. The beard is glued ONLY at the top so that the lower part of the beard forms the “clip-over” aspect of the bookmark. Add a felt-pen tonsure and googly eyes.


St. Anthony of Padua was teaching about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. A farmer overheard him and said, “That can’t be true!” St. Anthony told him he would prove it: “Starve your donkey for 3 days and bring him back here,” he told the farmer. When the farmer brought the very hungry animal back, the donkey bypassed the bag of oats and knelt down in front of the Monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament. The farmer became a strong believer after this miracle and told everyone to believe FIRMLY in the True Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.


To make the scene to depict this marvellous event, first MAKE THE DONKEY by cutting out the pattern from below. Paint two clothespins and the donkey head and body, grey. Glue the head to the body. Add a “mane” of black yarn and googly eyes. Clip the legs to the body so that it stands up. Don’t forget to add a tail!

MAKE THE MONSTRANCE: by copying the pattern from below. Cut out and colour according to the photograph. Make a tiny stand so that the Monstrance will stand up. See photograph for directions for the stand.

TO MAKE THE BAG OF OATS: Cut fabric 4″(10cm) x 3″(8cm). Fold in half and glue the two hems down so that the raw edges are not showing. The top edge remains “unhemmed.” Glue the two hemmed edges so that you form a food bag. Partially fill the bag with rice and tie with a yarn tie. Write the words “oats” on it if you wish. The food bag is ENTIRELY glued! It is not sewn.


During World War ll, many pilots reported that they had seen a “flying monk”in the skies over San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. They found that their planes were diverted and that they were unable to drop their bombs over the area! When they later went to visit St. Padre Pio (1887-1968) in this same area, they recognized him as the friar they had seen in the sky!


To create this amazing scene, copy the patterns below to make the cloud and the airplane. To make the friar, copy the friar’s robe onto brown paper and glue it to an ice cream stick. Colour in the facial features with a felt pen. Complete the scene as shown in the photograph.

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