St.Bernadette of Lourdes was born on 7th January 1844 to a poor miller. She was the first among nine children. She was baptized on January 9th at the local Parish church. When she was a toddler, she caught cholera and also suffered Asthma. She lived in a very poor health all her life.
She used to help a lot in the household by doing the chores. Once when she was 14, on February 11, 1858, Bernadette had gone to the woods to gather firewood with her younger sister Toinette. There she saw a very beautiful lady appearing to her above a rose bush in a cavern. According to Bernadette the woman wore blue and white and made the sign of the cross with her rosary made of Ivory and gold.
Bernadette immediately took her own rosary out and started to pray. When later asked to describe the lady she just said it was a small young lady. Three days later she returned back to the cavern with her other sister Marie where Bernadette knelt immediately again and said she could see her again.
On February 18, Bernadette received a vision to return to the cavern each night for a fortnight which she obliged. Her parents tried their best to stop her but couldn’t. On February 25, she had another vision. It told her to drink of the spring, to wash in it and eat the herb that grow there. She initially thought it must be an act of penance to drink from the muddy waters of the cavern but when she returned there she saw the waters have been cleaned.
On March 2nd , she had a vision that asked her to build a chapel and to form a procession. She had her 16th Vision on March 25 where she asked who the young lady was. The lady merely smiled. When Bernadette was persistent to know the answer she replied, “I am the immaculate conception.”
Not many believed that she had an encounter with the Holy Mother and she was put through various examinations and interrogations. Both the Government and the Parish tested her and finally realized she was telling the truth. The muddy water that she cleaned was so rich of minerals that it had the cure for 69 diseases. Bernadette believed it was her faith and prayer that cured people.
Bernadette now worked upon her vision that directed to build a chapel and built the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. Now, it is one of the major Catholic Pilgrimage sites in the World. She was getting so much attention but she never liked all those. She was ever so humble. When asked how she was being so humble she replied, “Mother Mary used me as a broom to clean the dirt. Once cleaned, the broom should be at the back of the door.”
She joined a hospice run by the Sisters of Charity at Nevers and she learned to read and write. On July 29, 1866 she became a nun. Her health deterred day by day and she died of tuberculosis at the age of 35 on April 16, 1879. She was praying the Holy rosary when she dying. Her last words were, “Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me. A poor sinner.”
When she was exhumed thrice at various time intervals to support her canonization, it was found that her body was not corrupted.
Feast – April 16
Patron of – Illness, Poverty, Lourdes
St. Bernadette Prayer
Prayer of Saint Bernadette
“Let the crucifix be not only in my eyes and on my breast, but in my heart.O Jesus! Release all my affections and draw them upwards. Let my crucified heart sink forever into Thine and bury itself in the mysterious wound made by the entry of the lance.”
Prayer to St. Bernadette
O Saint Bernadette, who, as a meek and pure child, did eighteen times at Lourdes contemplate the beauty of the Immaculate Mother of God and received her messages, and who afterwards wished to hide yourself from the world in the convent of Nevers, and to offer thyself there as a victim for the conversion of sinners, obtain for us the grace of purity, simplicity and mortification that we also may attain to the vision of God and of Mary in Heaven. Amen.