Before becoming the world-famous Saint Bernadette, who was asked to “obtain graces of salvation for the poor and small”, Bernadette was a small peasant woman in southwestern France. Marie-Bernarde Soubirous was born on January 7, 1844 near Lourdes. She was the eldest of nine siblings, four of whom died in infancy. His father, François, was a miller before losing his job. Ruined, the large family moved to the place called "Le Cachot", a dirty, cramped room. Suffering from asthma at a young age, the frail Bernadette was sent as a servant to Bartrès, near Lourdes in 1857, before returning a year later to Lourdes to receive her first communion. In 1858, the 14-year-old girl would have eighteen apparitions of the Blessed Virgin. The miracle took place for the first time on February 11 at the cave of Massabielle, and again July 16, 1858.
Two years after the apparitions, Bernadette entered the hospice of the Sisters of Charity of Lourdes as a boarder. Her religious vocation was strengthened and in 1864 she began her postulate in Lourdes and then left her native Pyrenees to join the convent of Saint-Gildard in Nevers in 1866. In October 1867, she made her vows and became Sister Marie-Bernard. For thirteen years, Bernadette Soubirous's life was marked by suffering linked to her precarious state of health and the severe treatment of her superiors. She offered her suffering to the world by tirelessly praying to the Virgin Mary and bringing care and comfort to the sick in the infirmary. Lying long months after a serious lung disease, she died on April 16, 1879, at only 35 years of age. In her last breath, she whispered: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, a poor sinner”.
Bernadette Soubirous's body was exhumed from her coffin in 1909, 1919 and 1925 for her beatification process. Remaining inexplicably intact, her body is preserved at the Saint-Gildard Chapel in Nevers. St Bernadette was canonized in 1933 by Pope Pius XI because of her faith and the exemplary nature of her religious life and not because of the apparitions she witnessed. Her feast is celebrated on February 18. She is the patron saint of the shepherds, the poor, the sick, and roommates! Even today, little Bernadette inspires many Christians around the world, including a number of artists who pay tribute to her through literary and cinematographic works such as the film Bernadette, released in 1987, or the musical, Bernadette de Lourdes.
In the space of five months, between February 11 and July 16, 1858, Bernadette Soubirous had eighteen apparitions of the Blessed Virgin.
On January 18, 1862, the apparitions to Bernadette Soubirous were recognized as authentic by the Bishop of Tarbes on behalf of the Church. This recognition took place after a careful and careful examination of all the facts. Father Peyramale, the parish priest of Lourdes during the apparitions, was the one to whom Bernadette addressed all the requests of the Virgin, including that of having a chapel built at the site of the cave. The bishop entrusted him with the establishment of an official pilgrimage and the construction of the future basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
Built between 1862 and 1871, the church overlooks the cave of Massabielle where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. The largest Catholic pilgrimage site in the world, the sanctuary of Lourdes includes the cave, three basilicas (that of the Immaculate Conception, that of the Rosary and that of Saint Pius X) as well as a large esplanade, many service buildings, fountains, swimming pools, etc. Bernadette Soubirous's legacy is above all the millions of pilgrims who go each year to the Marian city in order to pray to the Virgin or to obtain grace.
Learn more on the Sanctuary of Lourdes.
Lourdes is one of the most famous places in the world for the abundance of grace that is spread there. Therefore, the intercession of Saint Bernadette and the Virgin Mary, who came to Lourdes under the title of the Immaculate Conception, is strongly requested. Here is a prayer to Saint Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes.