Then on the Feast of the Annunciation, 25 March, Bernadette again experienced the 'irresistible urge' to go to the grotto. When she came with relatives, there were over a thousand people gathered there. The beautiful lady was already in the niche and waiting for her. The rosary and prayers were said, and during her ecstasy, the little visionary plucked up her courage and asked the beautiful visitor, once, twice, and then a third time:"Madame, will you be so kind as to tell me who you are?"
At the third entreaty, the Lady opened her arms and lowered them,letting the rosary slip down to her wrist, then she rejoined her hands, raised her eyes and delivered her secret:
"I am the Immaculate Conception"
As she went from the grotto, Bernadette kept repeating these words which she did not understand; they were but sounds to her. And when she came before the Abbé Peyramale, she burst out without any formality:
"I am the Immaculate Conception".
"What's that you say, you conceited little thing?"
"It is the Lady who has just said these words to me."
"Do you know what that means?"
"No, monsieur le Curé."
"I see you are still being deceived. How can you say things that you
"All the way from the grotto, I have been repeating,
'I am the Immaculate Conception'."
The Abbé sent her away with no sign of emotion. Mme Ribette, owner of the grocery store, recalls that M. Peyramale came in that morning for some goods, and said to her: "Listen to what Bernadette Soubirous has just told me the Lady said to her
'I am the Immaculate Conception'.
I was so amazed that I felt myself stagger and I was on the point of falling."
The Bishop of Tarbes approved the Apparitions in 1862 after exhaustive investigations as to their authenticity:
"We judge that Mary the Immaculate, Mother of God, did truly appear to Bernadette Soubirous on 11 February 1858, and on subsequent days, to the number of 18 times in all, in the grotto of Massabielle, near the town of Lourdes."