Lourdes Apparition

by Amyobala Key

Bernadette's Vision   Bernadette Soubirous     

Marie Bernarde Soubirous was born on January the 7th, 1844 to Francoise and Louise Soubirous. Her homeland was an area of the Pyrenees Mountains that is half French and half Spanish, a cultural mix that was reflected in the young Bernadette herself. Her peasant father, a miller, handicapped by an eye injury, had been accused of stealing bread from a local baker, resulting in his being jailed for eight days. The area in France, having suffered from a drought, the loss of the wheat harvest, and a cholera epidemic which claimed many lives, caused Bernadette to become infected and weakened. When Bernadette was 13, the extreme poverty left the family dependent upon relatives for their accommodation, consisting of one small room. Shunned by the locales because of her poverty and weakness, Bernadette's schooling suffered, and so she was unable to read or write. By age 14, she was denied receiving her first Holy Communion. In November of 1857, she was sent away to a little village to work on a farm, but her eagerness for her first Communion brought her back to her village in January 1858, the month of her 14th birthday, when her life and the lives of all around her would change forever.

A day came when the young girl went walking with her sister and a friend near Massabielle. The weakened Bernadette, could not keep up with the others. Having removed her socks and shoes to cross a stream and follow, she heard a gust of wind and looking up, she saw a lady dressed in white, with a blue belt and a yellow rose on each foot. It was to be the first of eighteen apparitions that she witnessed that year, the final one on the 16th of July. On February 19th, upon her return to the holy grotto, Bernadette lit a candle, inspiring millions in the decades to follow to repeat the observance of the Holy Visitor.

On Sunday, February 21st, crowds began to follow Bernadette, an event that drew the attention of an uncomfortable Police Commissioner, Jacomet. It was on her eighth visit on Wednesday, February 24th, that she received her first message. The Lady proclaimed "Penance! Pray to God for sinners! Kiss the ground as an act of penance for sinners!" The next day, Bernadette was instructed by the Lady to drink from the spring, but the Apparition was merely pointing to a muddy spot. Obediently, the young girl obliged, and soon the crowd of onlookers were taken aback by the girl's rooting amongst the mud which she smeared around her mouth and face. To the people, she responded, "It is for sinners." Shortly after, the small spring began to flow, after which, a friend of Bernadette's plunged her dislocated arm into the spring. It was to be the first of the miraculous healings in those early days.

Apparition in the Grotto   Bernadette's parents

On March the 2nd, the Lady instructed Bernadette to take a message to the Parish Priest. She wanted him to build a chapel at the grotto. The Priest did not believe Bernadette, and he demanded to know the name of the Lady. Later, in response, the Lady informed Bernadette to reply that she was the "Immaculate Conception." The phrase, unknown to the ignorant girl, had been assigned to the Blessed Virgin just four years earlier. Unaware of what the name was or what it meant, Bernadette informed the Parish Priest what the Lady had told her to say, leaving the holy man greatly puzzled. Immediately, the Bishop of Tarbes, began a Church enquiry. Four years later, Bernadette's Sightings were proclaimed authentic. Recognizing that there was a direct link between the cures and the Apparitions, the Bishop wrote, "The finger of God is here."

In 1866, Bernadette joined the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers, France, receiving the name Sister Marie-Bernard. She remained in weakened health throughout her years, until her physical appearance became quite pitiable. Once a visitor came to see her so that she might know the remarkable and humble girl. As she passed by, a companion pointed her out and remarked scornfully, "Bernadette. It's just her." On April 16th, 1879, when she was 55 years of age, Bernadette died. Her body, lightly coated with wax, has remained incorrupt in the chapel dedicated to her at the Sisters of Charity in Nevers, France. In 1925, on June 2nd, Pope Pius XI declared that Bernadette was Blessed, and on December 8th, 1933, she was canonized.

The day of St. Bernadette Soubirous is April the 16th, the day she ascended into heaven.

Bernadette Soubirous Bernadette Soubirous Bernadette Soubirous

Bernadette Soubirous Bernadette's Remains


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