Our Patron Saint
Marie Bernarde "Bernadette" Soubirous (7 January 1844 – 16 April 1879)
St. Bernadette was born at Lourdes, France.
Her parents were very poor and she herself was in poor health, suffering all her life from asthma.
On 11th February 1858, when she was sent with her younger sister and a friend to gather firewood, a very beautiful Lady appeared to her above a rose bush in a grotto called Massabielle. The lovely Lady was dressed in blue and white.
The beautiful Lady was God's Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She appeared to Bernadette seventeen other times and spoke with her. She told Bernadette that she should pray for sinners, do penance and have a chapel built there in her honour.
Many people did not believe Bernadette when she spoke of her vision. She had to suffer much indignity. But one day Our Lady told Bernadette to dig in the mud. As she did, a spring of water began to flow. The next day it continued to grow larger and larger. Many miracles happened when people began to use this water. The Marian shrine at Lourdes (Midi-Pyrénées, France) went on to become a major pilgrimage site, attracting over five million pilgrims of all denominations each year. (see our Lourdes/HPCT page)
Disliking the attention she was attracting, Bernadette joined the Sisters of Charity and became a nun. She spent the rest of her brief life there, working as an assistant in the infirmary until she contracted tuberculosis. She eventually died of her long-term illness at the age of 35 on 16th April 1879. Her body was laid to rest in the Saint Gildard Convent.
On 8th December 1933, she was canonized by Pope Pius XI as a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church and her Feast Day is observed on 16th April.