Spirituality for Today – Spring 2018 – Volume 22, Issue 3

Saint for Spring 2018
St. Bernadette – April 16

Marie Bernarde Soubirous was born in 1844 in Lourdes, France. Bernadette, as she was called by her family, was the oldest of six children in a very poor family. She was a sickly child, who suffered from asthma.

Early in 1858, Bernadette's quiet life changed when she experienced a series of visions in a nearby cave. She claimed to have seen a young woman who asked Bernadette to come back every day for two weeks, which the teenager did. Seen only by Bernadette, the "Lady" asked the 14 year old to pray for sinners. When Bernadette asked who she was, the Lady said, "I am the Immaculate Conception." Even though the woman never promised that sick people who visited would be healed, she asked for people to visit the site and for a chapel to be built there.

Initially, Brenadette's statements faced disbelief from both Church and civil authorities; they were viewed as hallucinations of a simple girl. But here sincerity prevailed. In 1862, a chapel was built at the cave, and thousands flocked there.

Bernadette became a novice in 1866 at the convent of the Sisters of Notre Dame at Nevers. She spent the rest of her life as a nun and was called Sister Maria Bernarda. From 1875 on, her health deteriorated. Her asthma worsened; and she suffered from a painful bone disease, which she faced with stoicism and resignation until her death in 1879. She was canonized as Maria Bernarda in 193; not for her visions, but for her humble life of prayer, devotion and obedience to the Lord.

A basilica was eventually erected by the cave. By the 1990's 3 million people were visiting the shrine each year and hundreds of sick were cured.

God our Father,
May we always profit by the prayers
Of the Virgin Mother Mary,
For you bring us life
and salvation through Jesus Christ
her Son who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.

For Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary People.