Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette Soubirous
"I do not promise you happiness in this life, but in the next."
Bernadette was born in Lourdes (France) in 1844. Her baptismal name, which later became her religious name, was Maria Bernarda, but everyone called her Bernadette. Although she still had not learned to read or write at the age of 14, nor was she able to learn her catechism lessons, she had many other qualities, like her honesty and devotion to Our Lady. She was graced with apparitions by Our Lady from February 11 to July 16, 1858, in which Our Blessed Mother confided to Bernadette her desire of having a chapel built in the place of the apparitions and that the people may go there in procession. She also spoke to her about the need to do penance. A fountain sprang up in the place of the apparitions, whose water became a fount of graces and of physical and spiritual miracles until today. One day, the Blessed Virgin said to her, “I do not promise you happiness in this life, but in the next,” and so it was. The life of St. Bernadette was a life of sickness, hardship and humiliations, but all these things helped her grow in holiness. Many people offered her money and other items, but she never accepted. Later on in her life, after the apparitions, Bernadette requested the entrance into the religious community of the Daughters of Charity in Nevers, France, where she would fulfill the duties of nurse and sacristan. She had much to suffer because of her poor health, and said “What I ask of Our Lord is not that he may grant me health, but that he may give me courage and strength to live my sickness with patience. To fulfill what the Blessed Virgin said, I offer my sufferings as penance for the conversion of sinners.” She only lived 15 years as a religious before dying, and nine of these years she spent suffering day and night from asthma and tuberculosis. She said in one occasion, “If someone has seen the Blessed Virgin just one time, he would be willing to do any sacrifice just to be able to see her again. She is so beautiful.” During her time as a religious, she was not allowed to speak about the apparitions but on April 16, 1879, the day in which she died, she exclaimed, “I saw Our Lady. Yes, I saw her, and how beautiful she was!” She was canonized by Pope Pio XI on December 8, 1933.