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Our Lady and St. Bernadette of Lourdes - "I Love Thee, Madame"

Our Lady and St. Bernadette of Lourdes - "I Love Thee, Madame" by Dan Paulos
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Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: "I am the Immaculate Conception." A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.

Her feast day is April 16.

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As a young 14 year old girl, Bernadette Soubirous had 18 visions of the Blessed Lady in a grotto in the outskirts of Lourdes. Although, her visions were widely doubted at the time, her humility, truthfulness and modesty encouraged many to believe. A few years after her reported visions, she became a nun and took the name Sister Marie Bernarde. She was later canonised by the Catholic Church. Lourdes has become one of the most popular locations of religious pilgrimage. 

Short biography of Bernadette Soubirous 

Bernadette was born on January 7th 1844, into a loving and devoted family. At the time of her birth. her family were relatively prosperous; however, due to a series of misfortunes her family were plunged into dire poverty. At one point, Bernadette’s father was arrested on suspicion of stealing firewood (a single wood plank); he was later released without charge, but, the event was indicative of their poverty. Because of the family’s poverty, they were forced to live in a single room that used to be a prison cell. The cell was so dank that it was actually deemed to be too “unsanitary” even for prisoners . However, despite their material privations, the family were said to be loving and devoted to each other. The young children were brought up to accept their lot without complaint. Bernadette herself was generally very well liked and displayed great courtesy and kindliness to others. She suffered from ill health (asthma aggravated by damp living quarters) and because of the family’s poverty she missed the opportunity to get a proper schooling. When she was 14, she was still studying the basic Catechism with 7 year old children. Thus she was intellectually ignorant of concepts such as the Immaculate conception, which were soon to have a great impact on her life. 

First Vision of the Virgin MaryOn February 11th 1858, Bernadette had her first vision of ‘a beautiful lady’. During a mission to collect firewood, Bernadette stumbled across a grotto that at the time was filled with rubbish washed up from the river.  As her friends went on to collect firewood, she was left in the grotto. In her own words she describes the vision she saw: 

“I came back towards the grotto and started taking off my stockings. I had hardly taken off the first stocking when I heard a sound like a gust of wind. Then I turned my head towards the meadow. I saw the trees quite still: I went on taking off my stockings. I heard the same sound again. As I raised my head to look at the grotto, I saw a Lady dressed in white, wearing a white dress, a blue girdle and a yellow rose on each foot, the same color as the chain of her rosary; the beads of the rosary were white.” 

Born: January 7, 1844 at Lourdes, France 

Died: April 16, 1879, Nevers, France 

Canonized: 1933 by Pope Pius XI 

Name Means: Brave as a bear