Saint Bernadette Soubirous, also known as Saint Bernadette of Lourdes,was born on the 7th of January, 1844. She was born in Lourdes,Hautes-Pyrénées, the Kingdom of France.
Saint Bernadette was the eldest of nine children. A little while aftershe was born, she was baptized in Saint Pierre’s, a local parish intheir vicinity. She was baptized on the 9th of January, which alsohappened to be her parent’s anniversary.
Her father was a poor miller named François Soubirous and her mother wasLouise. Thanks to the challenging times and the crashing economy of theFrench kingdom, the family had little to survive on.
Although poor, her parents made sure to provide for the family.Bernadette grew to be a petite young girl who showed an obvious interestin religion.
Tragedy struck when Saint Bernadette contracted cholera in her youngyears. It is reckoned that the early onset of Cholera led her to foreverbattle severe asthma.
Saint Bernadette received early formal education at Sisters of Charityafter which she sought Christian education in Nevers.
Her illness limited her learning abilities. She mainly spoke Occitan,the language of the locals, and had a limited writing and readingability.
Dedication and Devotion
The Soubirous family finances dwindled to a point that they had to livein a basement with one room. The basement was formerly used as a jail.It was provided to them for free by Saint Bernadette’s mother’s cousin.
While out one afternoon on the 11th of February 1858 with Toinetter hersister and a group of friends, something extraordinary happened.
Near the Grotto of Massabielle, Saint Bernadette had her first vision.Legend has it that as Bernadette took her shoes off to cross the water,time stood still. Suddenly, from the alcove, a figure cloaked indazzling white light came out.
Of course, her sister and friends had seen nothing. People assumed thefigure was no other person than the Blessed Virgin even thoughBernadette called it an aquerò.
This would mark the beginning of further visions in her life. On the14th of February, Bernadette, her sister and friends once again returnedto the grotto.
She once again saw the apparition but the others didn’t. This time, theapparition disappeared after the girls threw holy water into the alcove.
On the 18th of February, Saint Bernadette had another vision. In thisone, she was instructed to go back to the site of her first vision everyday for some days.
Following other visions, Saint Bernadette received various instructionsfrom the figure of light.
She prayed and fasted as instructed. She ate and drank of the muddysprings the figure told her to, causing it to become clear. She evenrelayed the message of the need to build a church to the townspeople.
At first, people were skeptical. They did not believe that this sickchild could be visited by that kind of power. Some people even thoughtshe was insane, especially since she continued to call the figure theaquerò.
It wasn’t until the 16th vision that the figure introduced itself asthe “Immaculate Conception”.
Embarrassed by her supposed antics, Saint Bernadette’s mother forbadeher on speaking on the matter. The young girl didn’t listen and stuckto her story.
Due to her insisting, Several Churches were built in the town. Some ofthe Chirches include the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and theBasilica of Saint Pius X.
These great churches were not only constructed to accommodate thousandsbut ended up being pilgrim sites in the years following the death ofSaint Bernadette.
Tired of the fame, Saint Bernadette escaped to a local school in Nevers.On the 29th of July, 1866, she became a part of the Sisters of Charityand moved to the motherhouse.
There, she assumed the name Marie-Bernarde. Although unable to take partin the strenuous activities of the convent, she continued to pray,preach, fast, and meditate.
Death and Canonization
- She died in Nevers while Praying the rosary.
After her death, her claims of visions continued to be reviewed and
respected. She was canonized on the 8th of December 1933 by Pius XI.
Her body was said to have been moved three times and in all cases, it
was noted to be incorrupt.
Saint Bernadette is commemorated on the 16th of April.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Bernadette
- Did you know that Saint Bernadette was not as fluent in French as
- Did you know that Saint Bernadette is the patron saint for Lourdes,
illness, people who are embarrassed because of their faith, and
- Did you know that Saint Bernadette was plagued by visions of the
white figure 18 times?
- Did you know that there is no scientific explanation for how Saint
Bernadette cleared of the spring that had once been muddy?
- Did you know that Saint Bernadette was committed to her Patron
Saint, Saint Bernard?
Prayer to St. Bernadette
O Saint Bernadette, who, as a meek and pure child, did eighteen times atLourdes contemplate the beauty of the Immaculate Mother of God andreceived her messages, and who afterward wished to hide yourself fromthe world in the convent of Nevers, and to offer thyself there as avictim for the conversion of sinners, obtain for us the grace of purity,simplicity, and mortification that we also may attain to the vision ofGod and of Mary in Heaven. Amen.