St Bernadette of Lourdes was young French girl to whom the Virgin Mary appeared under the title of The Immaculate Conception. She subsequently entered religious life and lived faithfully until her early death from tuberculosis.
Who Was Saint Bernadette?
Bernadette Soubirous was born in Lourdes, France on January 7th, 1844, to a poor family whose father was a miller.
When she was little, Bernadette got sick with cholera and developed chronic asthma.
When she was fourteen years old, she was sent with her younger sister and a friend to gather firewood. The date was February 11th, 1858, and a beautiful lady appeared to her in a grotto called Massabielle.
The beautiful woman was robed in white and blue. She smiled at Bernadette, who was the only one who could see her, and then the lady made the sign of the Cross with a rosary.
A few days later, Bernadette and her sister and friends went back to Massabielle. Bernadette knelt in prayer and the lady appeared to her again.
Then, on February 18th, the Lady asked Bernadette to return to visit her everyday for two weeks.
Bernadette’s visits to the grotto began to raise questions in the town, and her parents tried to prevent her from going anymore or discussing it, but Berandette persisted in obedience to the Lady.
On February 25th, the Lady told her “to drink of the water of the spring, to wash in it and to eat the herb that grew there.” Bernadette did so, causing a stir since she appeared to be eating weeds in the muddy ground.
The following day, the dirty waters of Massabielle cleared up and ran pure and clean.
Bernadette informed her family on March 2nd that the Lady wanted to have a chapel built there and a procession made to the area.
On March 25th, when Bernadette asked the Lady her name, the Lady replied: “I am the Immaculate Conception,” thus identifying herself as the Virgin Mary.
The town and local Church went into an uproar, divided over whether Bernadette’s visions were true or false.
Bernadette was interrogated by both secular and ecclesial leaders, and ultimately she was vindicated as speaking the truth.
The waters that flowed from Massabielle began healing many, and Lourdes became a pilgrimage site.
Bernadette went on to enter the Sisters of Charity of Nevers, where at a young age she was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bone in her right knee, and died at just 35 years old, on April 16th, 1879.
Bernadette’s feastday is April 16th.
She is the patroness of illness, people ridiculed for their piety, poverty, shepherds, shepherdesses, and Lourdes, France
She was beatified in 1925 and canonized by Pope Pius XI in December of 1933.