Saint Bernadette Soubirous

St. Bernadette Soubirous (1844–1879) was the eldest of nine children born to an impoverished family from Lourdes, France. She was a sickly child who suffered from severe asthma her entire life. While out collecting firewood on February 11, 1858, at the age of 14, Bernadette saw an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a grotto cave on the banks of the Gave River. It was the first of 18 times that the Blessed Mother would appear to her. Bernadette faced much controversy and opposition as a result of her visions, including humiliating interrogations from both the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. Yet, many of the townspeople believed her and gathered at the grotto when she continued to have visits from the Virgin Mary. During one of the visits a hidden spring was shown to St. Bernadette which proved to have miraculous healing power. When Our Lady finally revealed her name to Bernadette as the "Immaculate Conception," the local bishop acknowledged the visions as authentic. As requested by Our Lady of Lourdes, a church was erected at the site of the grotto and spring. Today, Lourdes is one of the most visited Catholic pilgrimage shrines in the world. Multitudes have experienced medically documented cures of body and soul from the Lourdes waters. St. Bernadette became a nun and died at a convent in Nevers, France, on April 16,1879, at the age of 35. She was canonized in 1933 by Pope Pius XI. Her feast day is April 16th.

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