St. Bernadette and the Immaculate Conception

Jude Missa

Saint Bernadette was a daughter of a former miller. Saint Bernadette’s Family was so poor and forced to live in a former prison in Lourdes, France. Compared to her siblings and children with the same age, she was unhealthy. When she was an infant, she was infected by Cholera and she also had an asthma. Her unhealthy body hindered her to attend school that resulted to her lack of education. She also had a little knowledge about the Catholic Faith.

Saint Bernadette’s story is popular when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on her on February 11, 1858, when she went to collect woods near the Grotto of Massabielle. Her companions went to the woods first while Saint Bernadette started to remove her socks and shoes. Then she heard two gusts of wind but the trees and bushes did not move except for the wild rose in the niche of the Grotto. There was beautiful lady who appeared to her wearing a white gown with blue girdle with a golden rosary on her hands and colored gold roses on each feet. The lady smiled on her and then they start to pray the rosary. The Lady is silent while praying the rosary, but start to speak in the “Glory be” part. After the rosary, the Lady disappeared.

In the next day, Saint Bernadette want to see the beautiful lady so she returned to grotto which the beautiful lady appeared again. The Lady wishes that Saint Bernadette to visit the grotto in 15 days which the saint agreed. During those 15 days, Saint Bernadette followed the wishes of the lady including the praying for the sinners, asking the priest to build a chapel and have a procession. The Lady also told her “I do not promise to make you happy in this world, but in the next”. One of the popular wishes of the Lady to done by Saint Bernadette is eating the grass, digging on the ground and drinking from the spring of water. Many people thought that she is crazy the miraculous spring appeared on the next day on the ground where she dug. Here many people from different places went to the miraculous spring and believed that the Blessed Virgin is the beautiful lady, but at that time, Saint Bernadette never told anyone that the Blessed Mother is the one who appeared to her, only a Beautiful Lady. Saint Bernadette always asked the Lady what is her name, but the Lady always response in a smile. Until March 25, the Lady finally revealed her name , “I am the Immaculate Conception”. The young saint did not understand what the Lady means, but the people of the church does. Because the “Immaculate Conception” title for the Blessed Virgin Mary is still on debated at that time before it becomes an official dogma of the Church.

Saint Bernadette become popular but she don’t want this kind of attention so she and her family decided that she will go to the Sisters of Charity of Nevers to stay and to study. Then she became a nun on July 29, 1866 and named “Sister Marie Bernard”. Because of her unhealthy body, she had a tuberculosis on lungs and bones. Her fellow Nuns advised her to take the water from the miraculous spring in Lourdes, but she declined and replied that the spring is not for her.

On April 16, 1879, Saint Bernadette died in the age of 35 while holding her rosary. She was canonized as a saint on December 8, 1933 by Pope Pius XI. Saint Bernadette is one of the saints that has an incorruptible body after death.

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