|Born January 7, 1844 at a time of prosperity for her family, her parents and younger siblings lived in an environment of deep love and devotion for each other. However, hard times soon fell on agricultural France, and worse yet, a string of seemingly endless bad luck fell on the Soubirous family. Put to the test time and again,
Bernadette and her family discovered the meaning of unconditional
In desperation, illness, and poverty, the oldest of the Soubirous children
began having mysterious visions at the age of fourteen.
The combination of sophisticated revelations and Bernadette's
simplicity were a certain confirmation of these apparitions.
The entire region was soon in an uproar over the events.
The apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary spanned
only six months, but no relief came to the Soubirous
family. They came even closer together as they
were plagued with continued misfortune through
the time of the apparitions and beyond. The
events at Lourdes only magnified the trials
of Bernadette and her family, leading to
persecution by many non–believers and
Within their home the Soubirous did find peace,
however. Their commitment to each other and
their faith held them together despite the
unnerving events and their dire living conditions.
Consolation also came as the Catholic Church
confirmed the apparitions within only a few
years, and construction began on the
at the Grotto of Massabielle before
Bernadette even left for Nevers.
As for Bernadette, she individually experienced destitution and divine light simultaneously. We might find it difficult to resolve these two states in the same life circumstance under any conditions. By faith and grace, she was able to live with them together.
Visionary and messenger of the Immaculate Conception, she told us the very words of the Virgin Mary, spoken in the native Basque tongue of Southern France and Northern Spain. She spoke words teaching of the merits of prayer, penance, poverty and church. In the first and most widely recognized Marian apparition of modern times, a personal message was delivered also to Bernadette—She would not find happiness in this world, but only in the next.
She was to die twenty–one years later in 1879 after a prolonged and painful illness. She remained hidden in a convent about 300 miles from home, a refuge from the interrogations and the pilgrims that never ceased seeking her. At thirty–five, her strong–willed manner gave way to her frail body, and she finally entered into her eternal happiness.
While she took with her the knowledge of certain secrets the Virgin gave her, one secret remained hidden in our presence. The most spectacular of all the incorruptibles, Bernadette's miraculously preserved body remained buried in a damp grave for thirty years until the cause for beatification was taken up. To this day, the body of Bernadette is a profound source of inspiration and of mystery surrounding the ways of the Lord. The face of Bernadette is one of surreal beauty, and will remain for us always the face that gazed into the eyes of the Mother of God.
A crystal coffin was made for Saint Bernadette's body. She was placed in a chapel in the Church of St. Gildard at the convent in Nevers where she lived for thirteen years. She has remained undisturbed and on view in this chapel since August 3, 1925. The Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction at Nevers are not secretive about the body of St. Bernadette. They welcome visitors, and encourage learning about the life example and messages of their sister saint.
Bernadette Soubirous is the
Saint of Lourdes France...
The saint of penance ...
The saint of poverty ...
Our Lady's child visionary
Also to many the saint of family