St. Bernadette is best known as the young girl that Catholics believe experienced visions and apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes, France. Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844 into a poor, humble and loving family and she suffered ill health throughout her life. One day while gathering firewood, a beautiful lady dressed in blue and white appeared to the fourteen-year-old Bernadette, the first of 18 appearances the Virgin would make to her. The town of Lourdes was divided in their opinion of whether Bernadette was telling the truth or not and she faced intense interrogation and criticism. Nevertheless, she stood firm in her convictions and she soon gathered a large following of faithful supporters. Now Lourdes is one of the major sites of religious pilgrimage and millions of Catholics visit there every year.
At the age of twelve I visited Lourdes with my mother and grandmother and I was absolutely amazed to see thousands of devoted Catholics worshipping at the magnificent basilica in Lourdes, all a result of the experiences of a young girl not much older than I had been at the time. I could only imagine the courage it must have taken Bernadette to persuade her family, friends and neighbors of the apparitions. Her implacable determination, as well as accounts of her humility, modesty and kindness, really inspired the young girl in me.
To learn more, visit her saint profile.
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