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e-book Companion For Youth: Saint Bernadette

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On March 25, Lady Day, Bernadette started for the grotto at dawn. When the vision appeared to her, Bernadette said: "Would you kindly tell me who you are? I want a chapel here. Only four years before the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been promulgated. The seventeenth apparition took place on April 7, and the final one, more than three months later, on July By that time, the grotto, which the people were trying to make into a sanctuary and place of worship, had been barricaded by the town authorities to discourage worshipers and curiosity-seekers from congregating there.

During the twenty-one years that she was to remain on earth, Bernadette never again saw the vision. The accounts of what she had seen and heard, which she was obliged to repeat so often, never varied in any significant detail.

ADOM :: Walking in the steps of St. Bernadette

Meanwhile the news of the phenomenal happenings at Lourdes had reached the very highest ecclesiastical and government circles: the bishop, the prefect, even Emperor Napoleon III and his pious wife Eugenie, became actors in the drama. On October 5, the mayor of Lourdes, on orders from above, had the grotto reopened.

It was thought that the empress herself had had a voice in this decision. At all events, it seemed to be the only appropriate response to the overwhelming demand of the people for a shrine Bernadette's visions, the new spring, and the cures that were being reported, all had taken a profound hold on the popular imagination. Due to a lucky turn, Bernadette's family was now more comfortably situated, and, to escape visitors, Bernadette went to live at the convent.

Even there, intrusions upon her privacy were allowed; these she bore as patiently as she could. While her fame not only continued but steadily grew, Bernadette herself withdrew more and more. At the age of twenty she decided to take the veil. Since the state of her health precluded the more ascetic orders, it was considered best for her to join the Sisters who had taught and sheltered her. At twenty-two, therefore, she traveled to the motherhouse of the convent. Her novitiate was full of trials and sorrows. Acting under the quite unfounded notion that Bernadette's visions and all the attendant publicity might have made the young woman vain or self-important, Sister Marie Therese Vauzous, now novice-mistress at Nevers, was very severe with her former pupil.

Although she made life difficult for Bernadette, the little novice met all tests with perfect humility. She cheerfully performed the menial tasks assigned to her, at first in the convent kitchen, although this work must have taxed her strength.

Later, when it was noted that her sympathetic manner made her a favorite with sick people, she was appointed assistant infirmarian. Her step and touch were light, and her very presence brought comfort. But during these years, Bernadette was suffering from the chronic disease which was slowly draining her life away. She was finally given work in the sacristy, where cleverness with the needle made her work admired and cherished. She displayed a real gift for design and color in embroidering the sacred vestments.

To all tasks she brought a pure grace of spirit and an utter willingness to serve. In September, , Bernadette made her perpetual and final vows. Her strength was ebbing away, but even when she was confined to wheel chair or bed, she went on with the fine needlework. And now she had more time for prayer and meditation.

There is little outward drama in the life of a nun, but in Bernadette's case there was steady activity, steady growth, in things of the spirit. She had been told by her vision that she would not attain happiness in this world. Her childhood had been sad, and maturity had brought no easing of the burden she must carry.

During the last two years of life a tumor developed on one knee, which was followed by caries of the bone. She suffered excruciating pain. One day, when a Superior came to visit her and said, "What are you doing in bed, you lazy little thing? I must be a victim.

The nuns, the novice mistress, and the Superior had all long since come to regard her as the vessel of Divine grace and to believe in the reality of those visitations of her youth. She still suffered from the curiosity of visiting strangers. Not only did nuns and priests come to Nevers but celebrities from Paris and other parts of France came to see for themselves the now famous Bernadette. Disliking publicity as she did, yet not wishing to remain isolated and aloof if a glimpse of her could help or inspire any other human soul, she met this test too-and sometimes with a native cleverness.

Once a visitor stopped her as she was passing down a corridor and asked where she could get a glimpse of Sister Bernadette. The little nun said, "Just watch that doorway and presently you will see her go through. Such was the prestige her presence gave to the order that many young women now joined it. On her death-bed, in a spasm of pain, Bernadette pressed the crucifix closer to her, and cried, "All this is good for Heaven! A poor sinner, a poor sinner-" She could not finish.

The date was April 16, As soon as the news spread, people came streaming towards the convent, chanting, "The saint is dead! The saint is dead! Joseph in the convent grounds. When it was exhumed in by the commission formed to forward the examination of Bernadette's life and character, it was found to be intact and uncorrupted. In August, , Pope Pius X conferred the title of Venerable upon her, and in June, , the ceremony of beatification took place. Since then, her body, reposing in a handsome glass reliquary, lies in the convent chapel, guarded above by a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and by the nuns who keep vigil.

In Rome, on December 8, , the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, amidst a brilliant setting and the fanfare of silver trumpets, Bernadette Soubirous was admitted to the company of saints. This little nun, humble, unlettered, honest, and obedient, is venerated by the great host of Catholic worshipers throughout the world. Tens of thousands of them journey annually to the glorious shrine at Lourdes. A miracle has been worked, and it is Our Lady who has worked it, for the sick man was healed by invoking her holy name. Other wonders follow, which space forbids our telling in detail.

A woman whose hand had been paralyzed for ten years plunged it into the water and was instantly cured. A little child of two years old was at the point of death. The deadly pallor on its little face showed that all hope was gone. The happy mother carries it back, rejoicing, but still trembling. But, see! It eagerly takes the breast, and two days later is running about perfectly well.

B ut now the fortnight during which Our Lady has asked for Bernadette's presence at the Grotto is almost over.

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It is the last morning, and there is an enormous crowd--soldiers, police, government officials, men of science, unbelievers, priests, and pious women without end, all assembled to watch a poor little peasant girl kneeling and saying her beads. Let us hear the testimony of one of the Government officials " I got there," he says, "disposed to laugh heartily at what I regarded as a lot of rubbish. An immense multitude had assembled around the Grotto. I was in the front row when Bernadette arrived. I was close to her, and noticed on her childish features that stamp of sweetness, innocence, and profound repose that had already struck me when she was questioned before the Inspector of Police.

She knelt down naturally, without any fuss, just as if she had been alone. She took out her beads and began to pray. Soon her look seemed to receive and reflect an unknown brightness, and became fixed, and fastened itself, radiant with happiness and full of wonder and delight, on the niche in the rock.

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Saint Bernadette's Parish

I looked there also, and saw nothing but the branches of the wild briar. Yet, in the presence of the transformation of that child, all my previous prejudices, philosophical difficulties, preconceived objections fell to the ground at once and gave place to a sentiment that took possession of me in spite of myself. I felt a certitude, I had a sort of intuition that I could not withstand, that some mysterious being was present there. My eyes saw it not, but my intellect, and that of the countless spectators present there, saw it by the interior light of the evidence before us.

Yes, I must declare my conviction that the Blessed Virgin was there. Bernadette was suddenly and completely transfigured.

Youth Ministry – JaCy

She was no longer Bernadette. She was an angel from Heaven, plunged in an ecstasy that words cannot describe.

Her face was no longer the same. She opened wide her eyes, insatiate of what they saw; she smiled to one we saw not, and her whole appearance gave a clear notion of ecstatic and intense happiness. A t last the fourteen days during which Our Lady had asked Bernadette to present herself at the Grotto were over. On the last morning the 4th of March an enormous crowd had collected long before daybreak.