On 18th February, the Sanctuary celebrates Saint Bernadette Soubirous. She was born in Lourdes in 1844 into a very poor family. At the age of 14, she was favoured with 18 apparitions of the Virgin Mary, which gave birth to the Lourdes pilgrimage. Having become a Sister of Charity, in Nevers, she died there on 16th April 1879, at the age of 35. The Church proclaimed her a saint on 8th December 1933, not for having been graced with the apparitions, but for the way in which she responded to them.
18th February in Lourdes: the 3rd apparition
On 18th February 18, at 6 a.m., Bernadette had brought a pen, paper and ink with her. The Lady spoke for the first time: “What I have to say to you, does not have to be written down, but will you do me the honour of coming here for fifteen days?” The Apparition added these words for Bernadette: “I do not promise to make you happy in this world, but in the other.”
A complete day of celebrations for the feast of the little girl from Bigorre. A young person loved by the people of Lourdes and those who come on pilgrimage to Lourdes:
9.30 a.m.: Sung guided tour. From the parish church to the Sanctuary (Arrival scheduled for mass at 11:15 a.m.)
11:15 a.m.: Mass at the Rosary Basilica, presided by Mgr. Micas, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes.
3:30 p.m.: Rosary in the presence of the relics of Saint Bernadette
4:15 p.m.: Sung guided tour (St Michael’s Gate, Boly Mill, Bernadette’s Father’s house, parish church)
5:30 p.m. Solemn Vespers in Saint Peter’s parish hall in the presence of the relics
6:00 p.m.: Film debate, with the Rector of the Sanctuary.
8:00 p.m.: Marian procession organised by the parish of Lourdes with the relics. (From the parish church of the Sacred Heart in Lourdes to the Grotto)
You can also go to the Palais de Congrès where you can visit an exhibition of photos of Bernadette (Sanctuary collection and Sisters of Nevers collection).
Bernadette Soubirous' path to holiness
Bernadette left Lourdes on 4th July 1866 for the convent of Nevers. This decision was made to protect her, and the congregation, from curiosity. When Justine Laguës, 13, the daughter of her nanny in Bartrès, asked her whether she minded leaving Lourdes, Bernadette gave this very simple answer: “With the little time that we are here on earth, it must be used spent.” And that’s exactly what she went on to do. She did not talk about Lourdes, she lived it. “You must be the first to live the message,” Father Douce, her confessor, told her. After having been an assistant infirmarian, she became increasingly sick herself. And in this, she would do “her job”, accepting all her crosses in an act of perfect love for sinners.
Bernadette died in Nevers on 16th April 1879, at the age of 35. The Church proclaimed her a saint on 8th December 1933, not for having been graced with the apparitions, but for the way in which she responded to them.
Prayer to Saint Bernadette
O Saint Bernadette,
pure and simple child,
you who were privileged to
behold the beauty of
Mary Immaculate and to be
the recipient of her
times at Lourdes;
you who did desire from then
on to hide yourself in the
cloister of Nevers and there live
and die as a victim of sinners,
obtain for us that spirit of purity,
which will lead us also
to the glorious vision of God
and of Mary in Heaven.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!