Marie Bernarde “Bernadette” Soubirous (7 January 1844 – 16 April 1879) was the eldest of nine children, her father was a miller from Lourdes but hard times had fallen in France and the family lived in extreme poverty.
Bernadette is best known for her participation in the apparitions of a “small young lady” who asked for a chapel to be built at the nearby garbage dump of cave-grotto within Massabielle where apparitions are said to have occurred between 11 February and 16 July 1858, She would later receive recognition when the lady who appeared to her identified herself as ‘Our Lady’
Despite initial scepticism from the Catholic Church, Soubirous’s claims were subject to a canonical investigation and declared ‘worthy of belief’, this Marian apparition is now known as Our Lady of Lourdes. Since her death, Bernadette’s body has apparently remained internally incorrupt and has since been moved to her crystal reliquary in June 1925.
On 8 December 1933, she was canonized by Pope Pius XI as a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church; her Feast Day is observed on 16 April, yet observed on 18 February in her native France.
The Marian shrine at Lourdes (France) went on to become a major world pilgrimage site, attracting over five million Christian pilgrims of all denominations each year
The Blessed Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to Bernadette Soubirous on a total of eighteen occasions at Lourdes. Lourdes has become a major place of Roman Catholic pilgrimage and of miraculous healings. The 150th Jubilee of the first apparition took place on 11 February 2008 with an outdoor Mass attended by approximately 45,000 pilgrims.
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