top of page

February 11

Saint of the day:

Our Lady of Lourdes

The Story of Our Lady of Lourdes

On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus. A little more than three years later, on February 11, 1858, a young lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. This began a series of visions. During the apparition on March 25, the lady identified herself with the words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Bernadette was a sickly child of poor parents. Their practice of the Catholic faith was scarcely more than lukewarm. Bernadette could pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Creed. She also knew the prayer of the Miraculous Medal: “O Mary conceived without sin.”

During interrogations Bernadette gave an account of what she saw. It was “something white in the shape of a girl.” She used the word aquero, a dialect term meaning “this thing.” It was “a pretty young girl with a rosary over her arm.” Her white robe was encircled by a blue girdle. She wore a white veil. There was a yellow rose on each foot. A rosary was in her hand. Bernadette was also impressed by the fact that the lady did not use the informal form of address (tu), but the polite form (vous). The humble virgin appeared to a humble girl and treated her with dignity.

Through that humble girl, Mary revitalized and continues to revitalize the faith of millions of people. People began to flock to Lourdes from other parts of France and from all over the world. In 1862 Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions and authorized the cult of Our Lady of Lourdes for the diocese. The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes became worldwide in 1907.




Lourdes, France



Confit de Canard


  • 1 whole duck, plucked and drawn

  • 300g coarse sea salt

Cut the duck into pieces – legs, breasts, wings and neck. Keep the feet, head, heart and neck. Skin the neck and keep the skin. Trim off any excess fat from the duck pieces and reserve it. Clean the gizzard. Put all the duck pieces in a bowl with the gizzard, feet, heart and head and mix well with the coarse salt. Cover with a tea towel and then refrigerate for 12 hours.

Cut the reserved fat and skin into very small pieces. Put 50ml of water in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then add the fat and cook very slowly for one and a half hours. Strain the liquid fat through a sieve and keep in a cool place.

Remove the duck pieces from the salt and wipe off the excess salt and juices with a cloth. You may find that you do not have enough fat to cover all the duck; in this case, cook it in two batches – first the smaller pieces (neck, feet, gizzard, head and wings), then the legs and breasts.

Put the first batch of duck into the fat in a pan and cook for about an hour, skimming the surface from time to time. The meat is ready when you can pierce it easily with a wooden skewer. Take the meat out of the fat and cover it to prevent it from drying out. Add the second batch of duck and cook in the same way.

Leave the duck to cool completely in the fat, then put the smaller pieces into one stone jar and the legs and breasts into another. Do not pack the pieces too tightly into the jars, as the fat must run in between them. Ladle in the fat, taking care not to pour in any cooking juices, as these will not keep. Store the confit in a cool place until the next day, then cover with greaseproof paper and store in the fridge or a cold place. The confit will keep for up to a year.

To serve, fry the duck legs (or breasts) gently until golden-brown on both sides. Serve with thinly sliced potatoes fried in a little of the duck fat with some sliced garlic and onions, and sprinkle with chopped flat-leaf parsley.




  • 1 1⁄4 cups flour, plus more for dusting

  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt

  • 7 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and halved

  • 1⁄4 cup sugar

  • 1⁄2 cup apricot jam

  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving



  1. Combine flour, 8 tbsp. butter, and salt in a food processor and pulse until pea-size crumbles form, about 10 pulses.

  2. Drizzle in 3 tbsp. ice-cold water and pulse until dough is moistened, about 3—4 pulses.

  3. Transfer dough to a work surface and form into a flat disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

  4. Unwrap dough and transfer to a lightly floured work surface.

  5. Using a rolling pin, flatten dough into a 13″ circle and then transfer to a 11″-tart pan with a removable bottom; trim edges; chill for 1 hour.

  6. Heat oven to 375º.

  7. Working with one apple half at a time, thinly slice into sections, keeping slices together. Press sliced apple half gently to fan it out; repeat with remaining apple halves.

  8. Place 1 fanned apple half on outer edge of the tart dough, pointing inward; repeat with 7 more apple halves.

  9. Separate remaining apple slices.

  10. Starting where the apple halves touch and working your way in, layer apples to create a tight rose pattern.

  11. Fill in any gaps with remaining apple.

  12. Sprinkle with sugar and then dot with remaining butter.

  13. Bake until golden brown, 60–70 minutes.

  14. Meanwhile, heat apricot jam in a small saucepan until warmed and loose; pour through a fine strainer into a small bowl and set aside.

  15. Transfer tart to a wire rack; using a pastry brush, brush top of tart with jam.

  16. Let cool completely before slicing and serving with whipped cream.

bottom of page