My Name is Bernadette domain

April 16th is a propitious day, for besides the anniversary of Father de Valk’s death, and the ‘two Benedicts’, mentioned in accompanying posts, today also marks the commemoration of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, the young visionary to whom the Virgin Mary appeared numerous times at the now-famous ‘grotto’ just outside the village of Lourdes, between the months of February and July in 1858, the last appearance on July 16th, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the same day as the miracle of the Sun at Fatima in 1917. An overview of Saint Bernadette’s life may be found in our reflection on Our Lady of Lourdes.

An unlettered peasant, Bernadette, like Joan of Arc, was filled a quasi-supernatural good sense. To all the questions – and she was interrogated any number of times – she always answer plainly, simply, even humorously. When someone said that Our Lady could not have spoken the French patois, since ‘God doesn’t know that language’, Bernadette simply replied, ‘then how do we know it?’. A priest said that the Mother of God could not have worn blue because ‘it’s not a liturgical colour’, Bernadette simply said, ‘well, I just know it was a blue sash’. She showed no fear or uncertainty, sought no fame nor fortune, and soon after the visions, hid herself in the convent of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers, never to enter back into the world. She died a painful death of tuberculosis, which had entered into her bones, but never complained. In her straightforward way, she said,

The Virgin used me as a broom to remove the dust. When the work is done, the broom is put behind the door again.

But the same Virgin, in her first words to Bernadette, also promised that she would not make her happy in this life – where, I might add, happiness is always fleeting and fraught – but the next.

Here is the future Saint Bernadette in her own words, and her own wisdom: