Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I found it!!!

This is my Saint Bernadetee report!

St. Bernadette Soubirous was born to Francois and Louise Soubirous on January 7, 1884 in Lourdes, France. She was the oldest of the five children that survived past infancy in her family. Bernadette suffered from asthma due to the 1854 cholera epidemic in Lourdes, and therefore was sick often. Her family lived near the Boly Mill until she was around ten years old. Her family then lived in a “Chachot,” which is French for “prison cell,” and this damp living space made her asthma much worse. Since her family was so poor, she was hired out as a farmhand in Bartres, France in 1857. She came home to Lourdes and her beloved Catechism lessons when almost 14 years old, in January 1858.
In February of that same year, a simple trip to gather firewood with friends turned into an astonishing adventure. Bernadette and her friends had gone to Massabielle, a mill near the Gave River. Since Bernadette suffered from asthma, she tried to cross the river without getting wet, but it was to no avail, and she stayed at the riverbank opposite the mill. Suddenly, there was a strong wind, and Bernadette looked up to see a Lady in the Grotto. Bernadette knelt and prayed the Rosary with the Lady, and then as suddenly as she came, the Lady was gone. The date of the first apparition was February 11, 1858.
This was the first of many apparitions. On February 25, Bernadette was told by the Lady to dig in the dirt for a spring. She dug up and ate the dirt and bitter herbs, and a spring appeared. On March 2, 1858, the Lady told Bernadette, “Go and tell the priests to build a chapel here.” Of course the priests in Lourdes wanted to know who this Lady was. On March 25, 1858, the Lady finally answered Bernadette’s often-asked question, “Who are you?” The Lady said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The Lady was Mary, Mother of Jesus! Bernadette kept repeating these words to herself until she was back at the village church, and told the priest exactly what the Lady had told her. Though the priest thought her to be crazy, he eventually built a chapel on the grounds of Massabielle. On Friday, July 16, 1858, Mary and Bernadette said their final goodbyes. Bernadette joined a convent In Nevers, France, at the age of 22. The name she took as a member of the convent was Sister Marie-Bernard. Bernadette died on April 16, 1879, in the convent she joined in Nevers, France. She was thirty-five, and the main factors in her death were tuberculosis, asthma, and a tubercular tumor in her right knee. Her body is incorrupt. Her body is kept in a glass chamber at the Church in Nevers. Bernadette was beatified in 1925, and canonized in 1933 by Pope Pius XI. Her feast day is April 16th in all countries except for France; there the feast day is February 18th.
The spring Bernadette dug on February 25, 1858, was a miraculous spring. Many miracles have taken place at Lourdes, and these miracles have been recognized by the Church. There have been sixty-seven miracles recognized as of November 9, 2005. There have been cures of blindness, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, and many different cancers. Many people make pilgrimages to Lourdes. There you can be bathed in one of the spring’s miraculous Baths. Many places sell Lourdes water, and you do not even have to travel to France to buy it. I have a bottle I bought at the Sorrowful Mother Shrine in Bellevue while at my Confirmation Retreat.
I chose Bernadette to be one of my Confirmation names because I have always felt a special connection to this saint. I have always been fascinated by the fact that Mary appeared to Bernadette at the young age of 14 years old, which is how old I am. I have been reading books and watching movies about Bernadette since I could read, she has always been one of my favorite saints.
Saint Bernadette was a brave young girl. She rarely complained about her family’s living conditions, and accepted her asthma-related breathing problems. She rarely defied her parents. She went back to school when her father asked her to do so, and let her family hire her out as a farmhand to the lady who had wet-nursed her thirteen years before. The only time she defied her parents was in returning to the Grotto so many times to see the Lady. Her parents did not want the townspeople to think that their daughter was crazy. Rather, after many apparitions, Bernadette had as many as 10,000 people following her to the Grotto. Some of these people came from towns other than Lourdes, as the population of Lourdes was only 4,000 inhabitants.
I can be like Saint Bernadette by having a strong devotion to Mary. I can also try not to complain about things. I should be as eager as Bernadette in learning my Religion lessons. I can give up many sacrifices to God, like Bernadette did. She once said, “The more I am crucified, the more I rejoice.” All people should try to be more like her. I am proud to have Bernadette as one of my Confirmation names.

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