by: Anne Eileen Heffernan, FSP from Encountering the Saints Series
It was on February 11, 1858, that a beautiful Lady first appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in the small town of Lourdes, France. Bernadette had asthma and was often sick. Her family was so poor that they were living in a cold, damp room that had once been a jail. Even though she was fourteen, Bernadette still could not read or write. She had a bad memory and never could remember her religious instruction lessons, but she loved God very much. She tried to learn all that she could about God, and she tried even harder to please him.
The beautiful Lady Bernadette saw appeared in a grotto, a kind of natural cave carved into a rocky cliff. The lovely Lady encouraged Bernadette to pray the Rosary. The Lady appeared eighteen times to Bernadette. She asked her to tell the people to pray, to do penance and to recite the Rosary, especially for sinners. During the last apparition, on March 25, 1858, Bernadette asked the beautiful Lady her name. The Lady replied, "I am the Immaculate Conception." Bernadette entered the convent in 1866. She lived a hidden, humble life until her death on April 16, 1879.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous and Our Lady of Lourdes is a captivating story of how one girl's trust in Mary has blessed the world. The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes is a place of reconciliation and healing even today. A child who reads Saint Berndadette Soubirous will understand more deeply the love God has for the world and grow in their devotion to Mary.