The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in Southern France attracts over 5 million pilgrims of all denominations from all over the world every year. Located in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Lourdes has a population of just 15,000. It is the birthplace of Bernadette Soubirous, better known as Saint Bernadette.
Bernadette Soubirous was born on January 7th 1844. Her family lived in Poor circumstances. At the age of 14 Bernadette was gathering firewood with her sister and a friend when she experienced her first vision. She said she saw ‘a small young lady’ in a grotto when she was attempting to cross a stream. Her sister and friend said they saw nothing.
Over the following weeks Bernadette said she experienced a succession of visions. Following frequent requests Bernadette said the vision eventually told her that ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’. The water in the stream at the grotto which had always been muddy became clear. Bernadette’s parents were embarrassed by her claims and tried to stop her visiting the grotto. The claims caused a sensation in Lourdes.
Despite many attempts by her parents and church and civil authorities to get her to recant her accounts, Bernadette steadfastly stuck to her story. In order to avoid the constant public attention she became a boarder at a school run by the Sisters of Charity. She became a member of the Sisters of Charity at the age of 22 in 1866. She spent the remainder of her short life in a convent in Nevers 700km to the north of Lourdes.
The Roman Catholic Church was initially sceptical about the claims of Bernadette but after years of investigation her claims were deemed ‘worthy of belief’. The Church has officially recognised 69 healings which have no physical or psychological basis and are deemed miraculous. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes has become a site of pilgrimage for worshippers from around the world. Bernadette Soubirous was canonized by Pope Pius XI on December 8th 1933.
Saint Bernadette died at the age of 35 on April 16th 1879.
Lourdes by cocoate.com on 2011-07-11 13:59:12