1. It is the 151st anniversary of the third apparition of Our Lady to Bernadette at the grotto. It was also the first apparition at which Our Lady spoke (OUR LADY OF LOURDES - A BLESSED DAY TO YOU
ALL!, Inspiration on a Monday - Bernadette's Journey, WOOPS! Forgot to post on the second apparition 14th of February)
2. It is Bernadette's official feast day (although interestingly there is disagreement over this because many outside of France celebrate it on the 16th of April- the date of her death) At Lourdes both are recognised - good enough for me! So it will be on my little blog.
1. The third apparition would be the one which would set the course of Bernadette's life. Having prayed the Rosary together the two young women were now ready to converse. Mary would make a request of this simple teenage girl from a small village just as the Angel Gabriel did of her 2000 years before. Bernadette, with a humilityand acceptance which emanated her heavenly mother would accept the Lady's promises with love and trust and return to the grotto knowing that happiness would not be hers in this life if she did - that was the level of her faith in the next life. The account that follows is in Bernadette's own words:
"The third time was the following Thursday. The Lady only spoke to me the third time. I went to the grotto with a few matured people, who advised me to take paper and ink, an
d to ask her, if she had anything to say to me, to have the goodness to put it on paper. I said these words to the Lady. She smiled and said that it was not necessary for her to write what she had to say to me, but asked if I would do her the favour of coming for a fortnight. I told her that I would. She told me also that she did not promise to make me happy in this world, but in the next."
2. A brief celebration of Bernadette's beautiful but often difficult life - it was made beautiful simply by her choices and by her simplicity. Even now, many years after Bernadette's death I have found the places she touched to have a silent, mysterious serenity to them. Yet they are so unremarkable to look at that you could easily pass them by without even noticing. Simplicity.
The Boly Mill - The Boly Mill was where Bernadette had spent most of her childhood with the exception of a couple of brief periods when she stayed with her Aunt at Bartres. The Mill had come to her father through marriage but a combination of the Industrial Revolution and the fact that the Soubirous family were so generous that they often allowed customers to take what they produced on trust meant they lost the mill.
This former prison cell was where the Soubirous' were forced to retreat to after the loss of their Mill. The six Soubirous' lived and prayed in this one small room and it was this ceiling Bernadette slept beneath during the visits. It was also a place of love where, long before the visions the parents and children could be heard reciting the Rosary together.
The grotto - where it all happened and where you can feel it still.
Bernadette saw Our Lady eighteen times in 1858
After the visions Bernadette, suffering a great deal as always with severe asthma which left her unable to breathe, added to by the exhaustion caused by constant harassment from people now filling Lourdes, was taken to the Hospice of the Sisters of Nevers. She was admitted, by her own request, as a destitute- Bernadette wished to remain poor. Even though she remained in Lourdes at this point, being separated from her family saddened her. Bernadette was also subjected to constant visits and scrutiny from visitors to the hospice. She would often weep before being sent out to retell her visions to yet more curious inquisitors. Yet she was always gentle and polite towards them never revealing her pain and frustration.
However, there were some joys here for Bernadette and in the Hospice chapel (left) she finally made her first communion - a moment of true happiness for her. It had been something she longed for.
Bernadette left for Nevers aged 22, she would never see her parents again and it would be
thirteen years before any of her siblings saw her. She knew she could never return to Lourdes and the grotto where she had seen a little of Heaven. She brought with her very little (her bag and umbrella can be seen to the left). Here she would live and suffer as a nun. Her Novice Mistress would cause her much unhappiness and she would gradually find her body deteriorating around her lively, joyful soul.
Death but NOT the end
Bernadette died on April 16th 1879 and was buried in the small chapel of St Joseph- she would not stay in this place however (which can be seen to the left) Having been exhumed three times and found to be intact Bernadette was permanently placed in the main convent chapel in 1925 where she can be seen today (see below) On this day when she was told she would not be happy in this life there seems to be much evidence that she is now exulting in the next with the same young woman she met at that Grotto in Lourdes.
St Bernadette, you promised you would forget no one; on this, one of your feastdays, please pray for us!
for video of Bernadette's body see: