I regard today as one of my namedays, after a fashion. You see, my middle name is Bernadette, so I figure I get to claim all the feastdays that are related to her.
I love my patron, St. Bernadette, and have always especially loved Our Blessed Mother under the title of the Immaculate Conception. This dogma of our Faith is united to our belief and understanding of the Incarnation of her son, Jesus, God Made Man, and therefore, connected as well to the dogma of the Blessed Trinity. Images of the whole Heavenly Family fill those words spoken to St. Bernadette by the Mother of God: "I am the Immaculate Conception."
It's been 151 years now since Our Lady first appeared to little Bernadette at the lowly grotto outside of Masabielle, France to confirm for the world the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception ~ the truth that she was, by divine exception, free from all sin, including original sin, at the moment of her first presence in the womb of her mother. Imagine the stir in Heaven when God placed this perfect human soul, Mary the daughter of Anne and Joachim, on the earth! Don't you imagine that the birds must have sung sweeter that day, that the air must have felt softer? And can't you just imagine that on this day, 151 years ago, the earth must have vibrated with a special hum because the Mother of God once again stood upon its soil? How the angels must have knelt about her, how the devil must have trembled!
Back in 1964, my parents, who were stationed at a Naval base in Spain at the time, visited Lourdes a few months before I was born. They have told us many times how very special a place it was. The faith of the crowds was so thick, you breathed it in. The nightly candlelight processions were alive with the wingbeat of angels. My mom and dad were so touched by the experience that it was a matter of course that their new baby girl would be named after St. Bernadette. I was only named Lisa, in fact, because it went with Bernadette. And I'm so glad of it. Fiesty little Bernadette has long been my champion.
Someday I'll get to go to Lourdes again, outside of the womb ~ I'm determined to. I want to see the candlelight processions and dip my hands into the waters of the miraculous springs. I'd like to listen for the sound of angel wings fluttering and put my hands on the rocks of the Grotto and feel if there is still the hum of our Heavenly Mother's presence there.
But, since I'm exactly 5,020 miles from Lourdes today, I'll read my little book, Personal Notes of Bernadette Soubirous, and be content in the knowlege of Our Lord's true presence in the tabernacle and the fact that where Jesus is, Mary is. And where Mary is, so is Our Blessed Lord.
And the children and I will go on a little "virtual" tour of Lourdes, using some of the following sources:
St. Bernadette's entire story, which can be found here. And another lovely version here.
Here is a coloring page of Our Lady of Lourdes, courtesy of wonderful, talented Charlotte.
Movies to watch: The1943 classic, The Song of Bernadette, And a new version, the one that is shown at Lourdes, Bernadette, and its sequal, The Passion of Bernadette,
Books: A Holy Life: St. Bernadette of Lourdes,
Bernadette Speaks: A Life of Saint Bernadette Soubirous in Her Own Words,
St. Bernadette Soubirous
Websites to check out: the official Lourdes Sanctuary
official Saint Bernadette-Nevers site
Tons photos of St. Bernadette and just a few here:
St. Bernadette at the age of 19, before becoming a religious:
The only known picture of St. Bernadette at the Grotto (taken after the apparitions):
The miraculously incorrupt body of St. Bernadette, as it looks today:
From the Personal Notes of Bernadette Soubirous:
"For the greater glory of God, the important thing is not to achieve many things, but to do them well."
"O Mary, my dear Mother, here is your poor child, unable to carry on any longer; you know my needs and above all my spiritual distress; have pity on me. Grant that one day I may be with you in heaven."
"Jesus gives all to those who have left all."
"God is always present.
Nothing can happen to us without His permission, without His will. All that we do to our neighbor is done to Him,.
In Him is all kindness, and all good.
A living faith concerning these truths.
Drive away all sin.
Console all suffering.
Dispel all langour.
Make fruitful the life of grace in the soul.
God will finally say to us: Quoniam bene.
The way: Union with Jesus and Mary. "