Visionary St. Bernadette Soubirous
Lourdes is probably one of the best known Apparitions of Our Lady, which also verified and made clear the Dogma/Doctrine of The Immaculate Conception, which was authorised by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854.
But let us take a closer look at this young girl and the message of Our Lady, which was entrusted to the young Bernadette Soubirous. She was born into a poor peasant family, in the year 1844, the first of six siblings. These were difficult years for her family and five of her brothers were to die at very young ages. Bernadette herself almost died of cholera, but, was able to survive this illness. As the family was destitute neither parent could afford medications.
Because of the poverty of her parents, Bernadette lived at different times with a foster mother at Bartres. Being that she was so poor, Bernadette was denied a decent education, and could neither read nor write. This was discovered as she began to receive instruction to prepare for her first Communion.
But it was in the year 1858 on February 11th, that Bernadette’s life would be changed forever. It was a cold day and Bernadette with two of her sisters were sent out to gather firewood for their cold and austere home. Being fragile in health, Bernadette did not cross the stream, but instead decided to wait for her sisters.
It was here that Bernadette thought she heard what sounded like a clap of thunder, as she pulled her shawl closer about her shoulders. It was as she was gazing at the sky to see if there were storm clouds, that Bernadette first saw a very beautiful woman looking at her from across the stream. The beautiful lady was dressed in what looked like a luminous white dress with a sash of blue around her waist and two golden roses on her feet. Bernadette was awestruck but also frightened as to what to do, she then saw the beautiful lady make the sign of the Cross before she disappeared, no words were spoken.
Bernadette was entranced by this beautiful lady, and thereby she returned to what is the grotto at Massabielle. It was on February 18th that Our Lady told Bernadette that she would not live a happy life on earth, but that her happiness was assured in Heaven. Our Lady gave several messages to Bernadette asking for Penance from the people and a greater devotion to our Lord and Savior.
It was here that Our Lady requested that Bernadette dig the ground so that a spring could burst forth. Bernadette immediately began digging the ground, taking no account of some of the derision from the crowds. Eventually a spring did burst forth which remains to this day.
But it was the message on March 2nd where Mary told Bernadette, "Tell the priests that people should come here in procession and that a chapel should be built on the site." Also on March 25th, the Blessed Virgin revealed to Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception."
Our Lady was true to her word and Bernadette upon the completion of the messages from the Blessed Virgin Mary, decided after suffering ridicule and the curious crowds which followed her around, to enter the Religious life.
She eventually entered the Sisters of Notre Dame, but after a health scare she was given the last rites, the Church therefore gave approval for Bernadette to make her vows. Bernadette was able to recover and spent time working in the Sacristy as part of her duties.
Bernadette was a very humble soul and disliked the 'fame' that seemed to plague her. She always referred to herself when questioned by the curious as 'the broom placed behind the door once it has been used', she never sought nor received special treatment. If anything the opposite occurred, when some in her community became jealous of the favour that was shown to this young nun. She suffered in silence many cruel taunts and persecutions from within her religious community. After suffering much agony and in her death throes, she cried out "Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me! A poor sinner, a poor sinner".
Bernadette died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35.
She was canonized in 1933 by Pope Pius XI.
Upon exhuming the body of this Great Saint her body was found incorrupt and she lay in a glass reliquary, in the convent chapel.
I encourage all to read about this most momentous Vision, Our Lady of Lourdes.
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