Saint Bernadette was born Marie Bernadette Soubirous on January 7, 1844, and her family knew her as Bernadette. Her father, Francois, worked at a mill. Her mother, Louise, washed clothes. Marie was one of nine children. The family was poor, and Bernadette was often sick. This is why experts believe that she grew to be only 4-feet, 7-inches tall. When she was young, she developed cholera. Later, she suffered from breathing problems that stuck with her for her whole life. Because of her poor health, she wasn’t able to go to school. This made it difficult for her to learn to read and write. She had very little grasp of the French language. Instead, she spoke Occitan, which is a tongue native to the Pyrenees region where she grew up.
The Family Home
Bernadette’s family was very poor, and they had to live together in one underground room. Thanks to the generosity of a relative, they lived there rent-free. The area where they lived was once a jail cell. It was known as “the dungeon.” Her parents worked very hard to support their family, but it was never enough.
Although Bernadette’s life was a struggle, she maintained a strong sense of faith. She was often made fun of for failing to memorize her religious studies, yet she didn’t let it bother her. She would simply respond by saying that at least she would always know the love of God. This unfaltering faith never went unnoticed by the local clergymen. One priest, in particular, Abbe
Visions Of the Virgin Mary
When she was a teenager, it became apparent that she was special. She became famous for experiencing visions of the Virgin Mary. In February 1858, Bernadette was out collecting firewood with her sister and a friend. They were searching in a small cave known as the old rock. It was cold and wet outside, and Bernadette’s sister and her friend wanted to cross the river. Bernadette wanted to find a dryer route. She decided that she would take off her shoes and socks to get through the water. When she was taking off her shoes, she heard a gust of wind. Next, she saw a figure appear in the dark cave. She said that the woman was bathed in a sparkling light. She had her arms stretched out and was carrying a rosary. When she prayed with the figure, it vanished. This was just one of a few incidents that occurred that led everyone to believe that she had seen the Virgin Mary.
Too Much Attention
Bernadette was responsible for helping many people being healed of sickness thanks to the spring that she had found. Soon, as word spread, Bernadette received a lot of unwanted attention. To escape attention, she went to a Catholic convent in Nevers, France. Even though Bernadette got what she wanted and was hidden away, her problems weren’t over. She was always sick, and when she was 35-years-old, she died of tuberculous. She fought a long, painful battle, but finally, the disease became too much for her.
Exhuming the Body
In 1909, 30-years after Bernadette died, experts wanted to dig up her body. They were hoping to find evidence that would explain her seeing visions of the Virgin Mary. They were very careful during the exhumation. They made sure to lift the stone off her tomb carefully before cracking open the coffin. What they found was incredible.
When her body was exhumed, the experts were shocked that after being dead for over 30 years, she was still very well preserved. There were almost no signs of decomposition. It’s been 140 years since this Catholic nun died, but her body is said to be mysteriously unchanged.
According to Roman Catholicism, God allows for the remains of a religiously significant individual to avoid decomposition. If a corpse resists natural decay, it is known as incorrupt. The Catholics believe that this is an indicator that the person was a saint.
When her body was exhumed, two physicians, Dr. David and Dr. Jourdan examined the body. They both swore that there was no smell, nor were there signs of visual decay. Both doctors agreed to the examination, saying that even her hair and fingernails were completely preserved.
A Second Exhumation
In 1919, the coffin was opened again. This time, there was still no odor, but her skin was a bit discolored. Experts believe that this was due to people touching it in 1909. In 1925, her coffin was exhumed one last time, and her body has been displayed in a glass coffin. Wax molds have been used to disguise the blackish color of her skin and the rest of her remains intact. It truly is a miracle.