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Saint Bernadette Soubirous - April 16

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breski1 St. Bernadette Soubirous (of Lourdes) Religious and Visionary (1844- April 16,1879) Bernadette was born in Lourdes, France, on January 7, 1844, the daughter of Francis and Louise Soubirous.…More
breski1 St. Bernadette Soubirous (of Lourdes) Religious and Visionary (1844- April 16,1879)
Bernadette was born in Lourdes, France, on January 7, 1844, the daughter of Francis and Louise Soubirous. Hard times had fallen on France and the family lived in extreme poverty. Bernadette was a sickly child. She contracted cholera as a toddler and suffered severe asthma for the rest of her life. Bernadette attended the day school conducted by the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction from Nevers. By the time of the events at the grotto, her family's financial and social status had declined to the point where they lived in a one-room basement, formerly used as a jail, called le cachot. On February 11, 1858, she was granted a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a cave on the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. She was placed in considerable jeopardy when she reported the vision, and crowds gathered when she had futher visits from the Virgin, from February 18 of that year through March 4.The civil authorities tried to frighten Bernadette into recanting her accounts, but she remained faithful to the vision. On February 25, Our Lady revealed a spring hidden below mud and debris in the cave and the waters were discovered to be of a miraculous nature, capable of healing the sick and lame. On March 25, Bernadette announced that in the vision Our Lady stated that she was the Immaculate Conception, which served as proof to the local priest of the veracity of her account. Our Lady asked that a church should be erected on the site, and for prayer and penance. Many authorities tried to shut down the spring and delay the construction of the chapel, but the influence and fame of the visions reached Empress Eugenie of France, wife of Napoleon Ill, and construction went forward. Crowds gathered, free of harassment from the anticlerical and antireligious officials. Disliking the attention she was attracting, Bernadette went to the hospice school run by the Sisters of Charity of Nevers where she finally learned to read and write. Although she considered joining the Carmelites, her health precluded her entering any of the strict contemplative orders. On 29 July 1866, with 42 other candidates, she took the religious habit of a postulant and joined the Sisters of Charity at their motherhouse at Nevers. There she became a member of the community, and faced some rather harsh treatment from the mistress of novices. This oppression ended when it was discovered that she suffered from a painful, incurable illness. On her deathbed, as she suffered from severe pain and in keeping with the Virgin Mary's admonition of "Penance, Penance, Penance," Bernadette proclaimed that "all this is good for Heaven!" Her final words were, "Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me! A poor sinner, a poor sinner-" She died in Nevers on April 16,1879. Lourdes became one of the major pilgrimage destinations in the world, and the spring has produced 27,000 gallons of water each week since emerging during Bernadette's visions. She was not involved in the building of the shrine, as she remained hidden in her monastic enclosure at Nevers. Bernadette was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1933 by Pope Pius XI.
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