Famed visionary of Lourdes,
baptized Mary Bernard.
She was born in Lourdes, France, on January 7, 1844,
the daughter of Francis and Louise Soubirous.
Bernadette, a severe asthma sufferer, lived in abject poverty.
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 consider able 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, a spring emerged from
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 the vision stated that she was
the Immaculate Conception,
and that a church should be erected on the site.
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. In 1866, Bernadette
was sent to the Sisters of Notre Dame in 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.
She died in Nevers on April 16,1879, still giving the same
account of her visions.
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 at Nevers.
Bernadette was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1933
by Pope Pius XI.
'Source: Wikipedia Dictionary:
Bernadette (Marie Bernarde Soubirous) (Gascon name: Bernadeta Sobiróus; 7 January 1844 – 16 April 1879) was a miller's daughter born in Lourdes, France, and is venerated as a Christian mystic and Saint in the Catholic Church.
Soubirous is best known for her participation in the Marian apparitions of "a small young lady" who asked for a chapel to be built at a cave-grotto in Massabielle where apparitions are said to have occurred between 11 February and 16 July 1858. She would later receive recognition when the lady who appeared to her identified herself as the Immaculate Conception.
Despite initial skepticism from the Catholic Church, Soubirous's claims were eventually declared "worthy of belief" after a canonical investigation, and the Marian apparition is now known as Our Lady of Lourdes. Since her death, Soubirous's body has apparently remained internally incorrupt, but it is not without blemish; during her third exhumation in 1925, the firm of Pierre Imans made light wax coverings for her face and her hands due to the discoloration that her skin had undergone. These masks were placed on her face and hands before she was moved to her crystal reliquary in June 1925.
The Marian shrine at Nevers (Bourgogne, France) went on to become a major pilgrimage site, attracting over five million Christian pilgrims of all denominations each year.
On 8 December 1933, she was canonized by Pope Pius XI as a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church; her Feast Day is observed on 16 April. She is considered a Christian mystic.
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