Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Bernadette by Ann Walker
To St. Bernadette, Mary exclaimed, "I don't promise to make you happy in this world, but in the next...."
Can you imagine being somewhere, going about your daily business, and out of nowhere, Mary appears? St. Bernadette Soubirous's story began that way. In 1858 in Lourdes, France, 14 year-old St. Bernadette took her sister, Toinette, and friend, Jeanne, with her to collect firewood. Toinette and Jeanne were nearby doing their own thing and St. Bernadette was near the Massabielle grotto, when suddenly, a beautiful vision appeared in front of St. Bernadette...and so the series of apparitions began. Mary appeared to St. Bernadette eighteen times between February 11 and July 16, 1858. Now what? How would St. Bernadette explain the visions? People wanted to know who this mysterious woman was and it was hard for them to believe what was going on, especially when Mary had St. Bernadette do some strange things, like drinking dirty ground water and eating grass. St. Bernadette stayed strong in her obedience to the Lady.
Then, Mary wanted St. Bernadette to have a chapel built. How would she get approval from the priest, Father Peyramale, when St. Bernadette didn't yet know the name of the unknown visitor?
St. Bernadette's story is a tale of listening and obeying. She easily could have stopped visiting the grotto--especially after a judge told her she was forbidden to go. Instead, St. Bernadette knew that she had to go to the grotto. We can learn many things from St. Bernadette especially: Patience that things will unfold as they are supposed to; willingness to follow what you believe is the truth even when people question your intentions; and relying on others for help when needed.
St. Bernadette suffered from tuberculosis ever since she was a child. Mary promised her, "I don't promise to make you happy in this world but in the next...." St. Bernadette lived her life to the full, helping others as she could, even though she was experiencing many challenges. God can help us through our own challenges. Like St. Bernadette, we need to rely on our faith to get us through varying situations and whatever may come our way!
We celebrate Our Lady of Lourdes Feast Day on February 11. We celebrate St. Bernadette's Feast Day on February 18. Let's ask them for guidance.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!
Saint Bernadette, pray for us!
- By Ann Walker