Saturday, February 11, 2017

(184) Lourdes, France: the Appearances of Our Lady as Described by St. Marie Bernadette Soubirous in Her Own Words

St. Bernadette after Mary’s appearance and message to her at age 14 in 1858. 

St. Bernadette died in 1879 at the age of 35.  You can see her body incorrupt in her convent chapel in Nevers in east central France along the Loire River.  When I visited the convent in 1962, a few hours drive from my army base in Orleans, I was awestruck.  It seemed as though she just died!  True, they did coat her face with a thin coat of wax since it got scratched while cleaning it.  See my blog #133 at on Lourdes and the Mystery of the Value of Suffering. 
St. Bernadette's Own Account of the Apparitions of Our Lady

        “I had gone down one day with two other girls to the bank of the river Gave when suddenly I heard a kind of rustling sound. I turned my head toward the field by the side of the river, but the trees seemed quite still and the noise was evidently not from them. Then I looked up and caught sight of the cave where I saw a lady wearing a lovely white dress with a bright belt. On top of each of her feet was a pale yellow rose, the same color as her rosary beads.

        At this I rubbed my eyes, thinking I was seeing things, and I put my hands into the fold of my dress where my rosary was. I wanted to make the sign of the cross, but for the life of me I couldn’t manage it, and my hand just fell down. Then the lady made the sign of the cross herself, and at the second attempt I managed to do the same, though my hands were trembling.  Then I began to say the rosary while the lady let her beads clip through her fingers, without moving her lips. When I stopped saying the Hail Mary, she immediately vanished.

        I asked my two companions if they had noticed anything, but they said no. Of course, they wanted to know what I was doing, and I told them that I had seen a lady wearing a nice white dress, though I didn’t know who she was.  I told them not to say anything about it, and they said I was silly to have anything to do with it. I said they were wrong, and I came back next Sunday, feeling myself drawn to the place…

A close-up of the statue of Mary as she looked above the Grotto in Lourdes, France, where she appeared to the 14 year old St. Bernadette in 1858.  When asked her name, Mary replied: "Je suis l'Immaculée Conception" or in English, "I am the Immaculate Conception."

        The third time I went, the lady spoke to me and asked me to come every day for fifteen days. I said I would and then she said that she wanted me to tell the priests to build a chapel there. She also told me to drink from the stream.   I went to the Gave, the only stream I could see. Then she made me realize she was not speaking of the Gave, and she indicated a little trickle of water close by.   When I got to it I could only find a few drops, mostly mud. I cupped my hands to catch some liquid without success, and then I started to scrape the ground. I managed to find a few drops of water, but only at the fourth attempt was there sufficient for any kind of a drink.  The lady then vanished and I went back home.

        I went back each day for fifteen days, and each time, except one Monday and one Friday, the lady appeared and told me to look for a stream and wash in it and to see that the priests build a chapel there. I must also pray, she said, for the conversion of sinners.  I asked her many times what she meant by that, but she only smiled.  Finally, with outstretched arms and eyes looking up to heaven, she told me she was the Immaculate Conception

        During the fifteen days she told me three secrets, but I was not to speak about them to anyone, and so far I have not.” 

(From a letter by St. Bernadette in 1861, three years after the apparitions)

Quotes from St. Bernadette Soubirous

        “Mary sacrificed all to God; she needed Him alone. From this day forward, I shall follow her example: the Lord alone will be my portion. Why have I come here if not to love Our Lord with all my heart. As proof of my love for him, I must suffer and generously sacrifice everything to him, as Mary did. Courage, my soul, through prayer we can do all that is asked of us. The heart of Jesus is there: let us knock.”

        “O Jesus, teach me to understand the holy Jealousy of heavenly Love! Free me from earthly attachments and raise all my affections up to you. May my crucified heart be forever lost in your own and hidden away in the mysterious wound made by the spear.”

        “O Immaculate Mary! O glorious Saint Joseph! And you, Saint John, beloved disciple of the Divine Heart, teach me the great science of love! May it draw me powerfully! May I soar at last, may I take flight and hasten to lose myself, unite myself and disappear with you in the adorable heart of Jesus, and Jesus Crucified, the divine heart of Charity, purity, self-denial and perfect submission.”

        “I must die to myself continually and accept trials without complaining. I work, I suffer and I love with no other witness than His Heart. Anyone who is not prepared to suffer all for the Beloved and to do His will in all things is not worthy of the sweet name of Friend, for here below, Love without suffering does not exist.”

        “I shall spend every moment loving. One who loves does not notice her trials; or perhaps more accurately, she is able to love them.”

       “Why must we suffer? Because here below pure Love cannot exist without suffering. O Jesus, Jesus, I no longer feel my cross when I think of yours.”

Links of Possible Interest to Articles, Videos, and Photos - Reflections on the classic 1943 Hollywood movie, “The Song of Bernadette”.  I saw it when I was 7 years old at Holy Trinity School. - Books on St. Bernadette, including her writings and the classic movie, “The Song of Bernadette” for as low as $1.46. - Research by Andre Ravier, S.J. on St. Bernadette’s incorrupt body. - the historical story of the apparitions to St. Bernadette. - Details of the 18 apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes. – “The Song of Bernadette” a biography with a photo of her parents. - Authenticated miracles at Lourdes. - details on her story and life.


  1. Why does Bernadette have such a straight nose in life and a very obvious hooked nose in death?
    The death portrait doesn't look a thing like her, either.
    I think it's a crock.

  2. I believe she has a coat of wax over her hands and face a sort of resurfacing due to damage that occurred while cleansing her body after exhuming her 3 times.

    1. I think that you are correct. I read somewhere that they did put a coat of wax on St. Bernadette's face. When I personally saw her incorrupt body at Nevers, France in 1962 I did not notice any wax coating. True, I'm not very observant.