Lourdes Apparitionby Amyobala Key
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.
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.
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