Interesting Facts About Feb 11: World Day of the Sick

The World Day of the Sick is a feast day of the Roman Catholic Church which was instituted on 13 May 1992 by Pope John Paul II. Beginning on 11 February 1993, it is celebrated every year on the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes, for all believers seeks to be “a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one’s suffering”.
People around the world take the time to pray for the sick and for those who work very hard to alleviate the sufferings of the sick on this day. Faith organizations mark this day especially to provide the sick with medicines, food, and spiritual guidance.
Pope John Paul II had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease as early as 1991, an illness which was only disclosed later, and it is significant that he decided to create a World Day of the Sick only one year after his diagnosis.
The Pope had written a great deal on the topic of suffering and believed that it was very much a salvific and redeeming process through Christ, as he indicated in his apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris.
The feast of Lourdes was chosen because many pilgrims and visitors to Lourdes have reportedly been healed by intercessions of the Blessed Virgin. The pontiff was also fond of the sanctuary of Harissa in Lebanon.
In 2005, the World Day of the Sick had a special significance since it was the year John Paul died from a sepsis. Many people had gathered around him as he lay dying.
Below are some interesting facts you probably didn’t know about World Day of the Sick:
1. World Day of the Sick is not an official holiday so businesses, schools and government offices are open.
2. World Day of the Sick was first observed on February 11, 1993. February 11 is also the Catholic Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, which a name is given to the Virgin Mary in honor of the apparitions that were said to have been seen in and around Lourdes, France, by a young girl called Bernadette Soubirous. The Church canonized Bernadette as a saint several years later.
3. Pope Benedict XVI declared his decision to resign from his post as the Pope on this day in 2013. He cited his failing health as the reason behind his decision.
4. In past years, the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada developed an annual resource kit to help with the planning and celebration of World Day of the Sick, held on February 11.

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