The Story of St. Bernadette
Between February 11 and July 16, 1858, 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous was blessed with 18 apparitions of the Virgin Mary. She explained the first vision, “I saw a lady dressed in white, she wore a white dress, an equally white veil, a blue belt and a yellow rose on each foot.” On the 16th appearance, March 25, the woman in white finally revealed herself as the Blessed Virgin Mary.
After the apparitions, many pilgrims began coming to Lourdes to see Bernadette and to hear her recount her story. In January 1862 the Church recognized the authenticity of the events at the Grotto, setting off a world-wide fervor. In 1866 Bernadette joined the convent of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers, where she spent her religious life. She died after a long illness at the age of 35. She was proclaimed a saint on December 8, 1933.
“Go, tell the priests to have a chapel built here and bring people here in procession.” Mary’s words to Bernadette are one of the foundations of Lourdes. Today, near the famous Grotto, stands the Church of the Rosary, where crutches and gifts honor the miraculous cures attributed to the Blessed Virgin. More than 6 million pilgrims come to this small town of 17,000 residents to pray and take the healing waters. To date the Church has recognized 68 cures as miraculous.