3 Things to Know About St. Bernadette Soubirous

In 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous, a humble girl from an impoverished family.

Lourdes, France is one of the most popular Catholic pilgrimage destinations in the world. In this otherwise unassuming French market town, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes marks the site of one of the most famous Marian apparitions.

In 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous, a humble girl from an impoverished family. The encounter took place near her home, in the Grotto of Massabielle outside Lourdes.

When asked her name, Mary responded, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” A miraculous spring formed at the site, which cured people in Bernadette’s time and continues to heal pilgrims today.

Here are some interesting facts about the incredible St. Bernadette Soubirous.

1. Her body is incorrupt.
All bodies break down after death, even those of the saints. But God periodically preserves a saint’s body from decay and He did so with St. Bernadette.

Pilgrims can view her incorrupt body at the Sisters of Charity convent in Nevers, France.

2. She had strong opinions about paintings of Our Lady.
This shouldn’t be a surprise since she actually saw Mary with her own eyes! Think about it — would you appreciate paintings of your loved ones by people who never saw an image of them?

The only image she would pray in front of was Our Lady of Cambrai. Tradition says that the Evangelist St. Luke painted this image. Given that St. Luke likely knew Jesus’ mother in person, it makes sense that his painting would closely match the likeness of Our Lady of Lourdes.

3. The government threatened her.
Once word of the apparition spread, people gathered in large numbers at the Grotto when St. Bernadette was there to talk to Our Lady. Some of them believed that Mary was really there too, even if they didn’t see her. The doubters mocked the saint. It even took time for St. Bernadette’s family and pastor to believe that she was really seeing the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The local government, however, saw her as a nuisance. The mayor of Lourdes barricaded the grotto and fined people for talking about the apparition. He wanted to arrest St. Bernadette, so he attempted to frame her as a crazy troublemaker. But there was too much opposition from citizens and her priest.

Miracles still happen at Lourdes. Over 7,000 healing miracles have been reported at Lourdes, although the Church has only investigated and officially recognized a small number of them. The earliest miracles happened soon after St. Bernadette discovered the holy spring.

As recently as 2008, ​​Sister Bernadette Moriau was cured of a severe type of spinal stenosis that limited her mobility and left her in frequent pain. Her doctor found no scientific explanation for her recovery.

You don’t need to suffer an illness to find spiritual healing and peace at Lourdes. We invite you to follow in the footsteps of St. Bernadette and see the miraculous Grotto for yourself by joining Verso Ministries on our Marian pilgrimage this June 2024, or on another pilgrimage to France later this year.

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