• Olivia M. Bannan

ST BERNADETTE SOUBIROUS OF LOURDES --FEAST DAY APRIL 16, 1879



Lourdes is a village in France where Our Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. She appeared eighteen times to St Bernadette. She was the oldest of nine children. They lived a modest life til 1854 when her father was imprisoned having been falsely accused of theft. Their lives changed.


The Industrial Revolution replaced her father's wheat mills. He no longer could provide for his family. They were reduced to poverty. They were forced to live in the Cachot -formerly a jail.


She suffered with cholera, asthma and the emotional trauma of being laughed at for living in the old jail. Because of her illness she did not learn to read or write or speak French. She spoke the dialect of the area. The catechism was in French so she could only attend Mass, but not receive Holy Communion.


On February 11, 1858, she went with her sisters to collect wood. But because of the weather and her asthma, Bernadette could not keep up with her sisters and she stayed behind. A beautiful Lady appeared to her and prayed the rosary with her. She continued to appear for a total of 18 times . At one apparition Bernadette was told to pray for sinners and to always have a lit candle when praying the rosary. As expected, some believed her and others mocked her and made fun of her. Her mother was very upset.


At the Ninth Apparition, the Beautiful Lady told Bernadette to, "drink from the fountain and bathe in it". At first the ground was moist and then there was a trickle of water. The following day there was a stream of water.


The Beautiful Lady requested a chapel be built and then asked for people to come to the grotto in a processed form. On day 16 of the apparitions March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, with 20,000 people at the grotto, the Beautiful Lady identified herself as the Immaculate Conception.


After more visits, the Grotto closed and the altar dismantled. Bernadette received communion on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. After several months, Bernadette felt an irresistible urge to return to the Grotto. Since there was a barricade, Bernadette knelt on the grass and the Beautiful Lady appeared to Bernadette for the last time.


She joined the Sisters of Charity and died at the age of 34 on April 16, 1879. She was canonized in 1933 by Pope Pius XI. Thirty years later Bernadette's coffin was opened: there was no odor, and her body was completely untouched by the laws of nature. Bernadette's body was placed in a coffin of gold and glass and can be viewed in the Chapel of Saint Bernadette at the motherhouse in Nevers, France.


Thousands of people have been healed due to the miraculous waters of the Grotto of Massabieille, in Lourdes France.

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