About our Patroness
St Bernadette Soubirous
The parish of St Bernadette is named after St Bernadette Soubirous who is mostly known for the appearances of our Lady at Lourdes in France.
Marie Bernarde Soubirous was born on the 7th of January 1844 as the eldest of 9 children. During her childhood she was very sickly due to her having contracted cholera as an infant and she suffered from severe asthma for her whole life. Her father worked as a miller and the family was very poor.
Visions of Our Lady of Lourdes
On the 11th of February 1858 at the age of 14, Bernadette, her sister and and a friend were gathering fire wood at the grotto of Massabielle when a young lady appeared to Bernadette. The other two didn’t see the vision. This was the first of 18 visions in total.
On 25th February, the vision told Bernadette to dig in the ground and when she found a spring “to drink of the water of the spring, to wash in it and to eat the herb that grew there.” The next day the water was clear and the spring exists still to this day. In another vision she was told that a chapel should be built and a procession formed.
During the 16th vision, Bernadette asked the young lady that appeared to her for name. She asked three more times and was eventually given the answer “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
A chapel at the site of the apparitions was eventually built and is now one of the major Catholic pilgrimage sites in the World. Pilgrims have been flocking to the site since Bernadette discovered spring and in over 160 years a total of 70 cures have been verified by the Lourdes Medical Bureau as inexplicable. Bernadette insisted that it is prayer and faith that cures the sick.
Life after the Visions
The visions attracted a lot of attention which Bernadette did not like and therefore she joined the covent in Nevers of the Sisters of Charity in 1866. Her poor health did not allow for her to enter any of the contemplative orders that she had considered to join. She spent the rest of her life as an assistant in the infirmary and a sacristan, creating embroidery for vestments. The cholera she had contracted as a child had left her with a life long asthma and she eventually contracted tuberculosis of the lungs and bones. On the 16th of April 1879 at the age of 35, she died while praying the rosary. Her last words were: “Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me.”
St Bernadette was canonised by Pope Pius XI on the 8th of December 1933, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. In the liturgical calendar her feast day is on the 16th of April, her heavenly anniversary. St Bernadette is the patron saint of the poor, the sick, those ridiculed for their faith and shepherds. Her body is permanently exposed in a glass coffin in the chapel of the convent of Nevers after her body was found to be incorrupt after three exhumations.
Wisdom from our Patroness:
“I shall spend every moment loving. One who loves does not notice her trials; or perhaps more accurately, she is able to love them. I shall do everything for Heaven, my true home. There I shall find my Mother in all the splendor of her glory. I shall delight with her in the joy of Jesus himself in perfect safety.”
“If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces… never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again. That’s the beauty of being alive… We can always start all over again. Enjoy God’s amazing opportunities bestowed on us. Have faith in Him always.”
“O Jesus, I would rather die a thousand deaths than be unfaithful to you!”