Bernadette Soubirous was born at the 7-th of January 1844 in Lourdes. She lived with her parents in a watermill. During an epidemic, Bernadette got cholera.
She survived only just, but then she got a lifelong asthma. To make things worse, the family had to leave the mill. They found shelter in a former prison.
In the winter of 1858, Bernadette went out with her sister and a girl friend to gather wood for the hearth. Because of her bad condition, Bernadette stayed behind the others.
When she put off her shoes to cross the little river Gave, she heard the wind above the grotto of Massabielle.
Then she saw an apparition: a Lady in white with a rosary.
Lateron, the Lady appeared again and introduced herself with the words I am the Immaculate Conception.
In 1854, the pope promulgated the dogma that the holy virgin Mary was without original sin when she was conceived in the womb of her mother. Bernadette did not know this.
She hardly could read at the time.
In the summer of 1858, Bernadette had seventeen more visions. Mary asked her to dig a well in the mud near the grotto.
The holy virgin also asked that people build a church next the grotto. People should also proceed in processions at the spot, and pray the rosary.
In the beginning, nobody thought these visions of Bernadette were real. The prefect and the pastor insisted that she answer their difficult questions on the subject.
Meantime, Bernadette tried to live a normal life.
Then some miraculous healings occurred around the well. The bishop ordered a thorough investigation.
After four years he concluded that the apparitions were supernatural. Lourdes was a centre of pilgrimage ever since. So many pilgrims visited Lourdes that the pastor
placed Bernadette in the local hospital. There she decided to become a nun.
In 1866 she joined the Sťurs de la CharitÚ in Nevers.
She was not allowed to speak about the apparitions. She worked as a sacritan and a nurse.
Besides asthma, Bernadette had a tumor in her knee. This was very painful, but she never complained. She died at the 16-th of April 1879.
In 1909, her mortal remains were exhumed. Her body was still incorrupt, that is: preserved from decomposition. In 1933, the pope canonized her as a saint.