|“I shall do everything for Heaven, my true home.”|
St. Bernadette first encountered Mary at the grotto when she was only 13 years old. The Blessed Virgin, through Bernadette, had come to call sinners to have a change of heart and find the truth through prayer and penance. The Lady also asked Bernadette to tell the priests to build a chapel on the site and hold processions.
Two weeks later, on February 25th, the Lady told Bernadette to dig until she hit the stream. Bernadette began to dig through the dirt with her hands. Finally, after several attempts, she found water. Although it was muddy at first, the stream became increasing clean. The stream produced over 27,000 gallons of water a day, as it still does today.
As word spread, this water was given to medical patients of all kinds, and many reports of miraculous cures followed. Initially, everyone doubted Bernadette’s visions and the purpose in her activities, but Bernadette, using the spiritual work of consoling, met doubt and skepticism with hope, and followed Mary’s plans for her. Eventually everyone did believe Bernadette, and the grotto at Lourdes became a place of worship The Lourdes holy water was sacred for performing miracles. Because of Bernadette’s unwavering faith, Mary was able to perform the spiritual work of instruction by addressing the people through Bernadette.
Although, Bernadette’s childhood was marred by reoccurring illnesses and poverty, she remained happy and peaceful due to her deep faith in God. At age 22, Bernadette took the religious habit of a postulant and joined the Sisters of Charity at their motherhouse at Nevers. She embraced a life of mercy and service. As an infirmary assistant, she visited and comforted the sick. As a sacristan, she created beautiful embroidery for altar cloths and vestments. Bernadette died on April 16, 1879 at age 35 after contracting tuberculosis. She was canonized by Pope Piuis XI in 1933.