Feast Day: April 16
Venerated: November 18, 1923
Beatified: June 14, 1925
Canonized: December 8, 1933
Imagine seeing our Blessed Mother not just once, but 18 times! That is the blessing Bernadette Soubirous was given for five months in 1858.
One day, Bernadette, her sister, and a friend were gathering firewood near their home in Lourdes, France. Suddenly a lovely Lady dressed in blue and white appeared to Bernadette above a rose bush in a small cave. The Lady held a rosary and made the Sign of the Cross. Bernadette, who was only 14 years old, fell to her knees and began to pray the rosary.
The Lady spoke to Bernadette lovingly and with respect. This was a surprise to Bernadette. She came from a poor family and had little education. She was not used to being treated so kindly.
During one of her appearances, Bernadette asked the Lady who she was. The woman replied, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Bernadette did not understand what this meant. It was later explained to her that the words “Immaculate Conception” describe Mary, who was free from sin from the first moment of her life in her mother’s womb. It was only then that Bernadette began to understand that it was our Blessed Mother Mary who was appearing to her.
When Bernadette reported her visions of Mary, Church officials were doubtful. Many people did not believe her because she was the only one who ever saw or spoke to Mary. Still, crowds of people came to Lourdes in hopes of seeing Jesus’ mother.
One day, Mary asked Bernadette to use her hands to dig in the mud near the cave. When Bernadette obeyed the Lady’s request, a spring began to flow from the mud. It grew larger and larger and still flows today. At our Blessed Mother’s request, a chapel was built on the site.
Millions of people have made pilgrimages to Lourdes. They bathe in the waters from the spring and pray for healing. Miraculous cures have been declared after thorough investigation by Church officials and medical experts.
After the appearances stopped, Bernadette tried to live a quiet life. She belonged to a poor family and was not in the best of health. She became a Sister of Charity of Nevers when she was 22 and died in 1879, when she was only 35. St. Bernadette lived with great faith even when people doubted her word. Her example teaches us to pray that Mary will help us to have faith in all of Jesus’ teachings.
She was canonized a saint in 1933 and is considered to be a Christian mystic.
Connecting to Be My Disciples®
Grade 3, chapter 22
Connecting to Blest Are We® Parish and School
Grade 3, unit 4