St. Bernadette of Lourdes was born on January 7, 1844 in Lourdes, France. She received several visions from the Virgin Mary starting in 1858. When she reported these visions, civil authorities attempted to force her to recant her accounts. She refused, and word spread about the cave she had found with supposed miracle healing springs. Napolean III’s wife helped her achieve her vision to build a church at the cave. Lourdes emerged as a pilgrimage site for worshippers from around the world.
10 Facts about St. Bernadette of Lourdes
1. Bernadette was born Maria Bernada Sobirós, named after her mother's sister who was also her godmother. However, she was known by the nickname Bernadette all her life.
2. Bernadette had cholera when she was very young, and suffered severe asthma for the rest of her life. It wasn't shocking that she contracted cholera; the Soubirous family lived in very cramped, unhygienic conditions, where diseases were common.
3. When Bernadette was 14 her, a friend and her sister went out gathering firewood. Bernadette lagged behind (because of her asthma) and stopped to rest for a minute. While she was doing this, she noticed a light coming from a nearby cave. Bernadette went to investigate, and there saw what she would later call the Immaculate Conception. That was the first of the visions she saw of Mary.
4. She was made a saint on the 8th of December, 1933, by Pope Pius XI, 54 years after she died. Her body was exhumed three times before this, and she didn't appear to have aged or decayed at all.
5. Bernadette joined a convent in 1866, when she was 22. She spent the rest of her short life there, first as an assistant in the infirmary, then embroidering altar cloths and vestments.
6. She died of tuberculosis on the 16th of April 1879. She was only 35 years old.
7. When Bernadette had her first vision she said she saw 'a lady dressed in white with a blue girdle. She had a golden rose on each foot, and held a rosary of pearls'. On that occasion, the lady said nothing to her, but on Bernadette's next visit, the lady asked her to return every day for the next fifteen days, which she did.
8. On her 9th visit, the vision pointed to the ground and told Bernadette to drink from the spring. When she dug for it, she only found a muddy puddle, and tried to drink from it several times. This caused much derison from everyone watching, all of them thinking her insane. In the next few days, however, a spring began to flow from that muddy puddle, and it was reported to have healing properties.
9. Patron Saint of Bodily ills, illness, Lourdes France, people ridiculed for their piety, poverty, shepherdesses, shepherds, sick people, sickness
10. Feast day is April 16th
Please watch the video below to learn more about St. Bernadette.