Bernadette Soubirous was born in Lourdes, France on January 7, 1844. Her parents were very poor and she was the first of nine children. As a toddler, Bernadette contracted cholera and suffered extreme asthma. Unfortunately, she lived the rest of her life in poor health.
On Thursday, February 11, 1858, fourteen-year-old Bernadette was sent with her younger sister and a friend to gather firewood, when a very beautiful lady, emanating strong Love, appeared to her above a rose bush in a grotto called Massabielle (Tuta de Massavielha).
The woman wore blue and white and smiled very friendly at Bernadette. Bernadette fell to her knees and began to pray. Bernadette later described the woman as “uo petito damizelo”, meaning “a small young lady”. Though her sister and friend claimed they were unable to see her, Bernadette knew what she saw was real.
Three days later, Bernadette, her sister Marie, and other girls returned to the grotto, where Bernadette immediately knelt, saying she could see “aquero” again. She fell into a trance and one girl threw holy water at the niche and another threw a rock that shattered on the ground. It was then that the apparition disappeared.
On February 18, Bernadette said “the vision” asked her to return to the grotto each day for a fortnight. With each visit, Bernadette saw the Superior Spirit and the period of daily visions became known as “la Quinzaine sacrée”, meaning “holy fortnight”.
When Bernadette began to visit the grotto, her parents were embarrassed and attempted to stop her, but were unable to do so. On February 25, Bernadette claimed to have had a life-changing vision.
The vision had told her “to drink of the water of the spring, to wash in it and to eat the herb that grew there” as an act of penance. The next day, the grotto’s muddy waters had been cleared and fresh clear water flowed abundantly.
On March 2, at the thirteenth of the apparitions, Bernadette told her family the lady said “a chapel should be built and a procession formed”.
During her sixteenth vision, which Bernadette claims to have experienced for over an hour, was on March 25. Bernadette claimed she had asked the woman her name, but her question was only met with a smile. The insistence of Bernadette with the question of the name, was because of the parish priest, who demanded a connection of the apparition with the Catholic faith in order to approve the chapel. Bernadette asked again, three more times, and finally the woman said, “I am the Immaculate Conception”. Bernadette Soubirous never said, ever, that the apparition was the “Virgin Mary”.
Though many townspeople believed she had indeed been seeing the Virgin Mary, Bernadette’s story created a division in her town. Many believed she was telling the truth, while others believed she had a mental illness and demanded she be put in a mental asylum. Some believed Bernadette’s visions meant she needed to pray for penance.
Church authorities rigorously interviewed Bernadette, and the French police persecuted her, including they arrested Bernadette in order to force her to sign a false confession saying that she made up everything, what she never did. By 1862 the Catholic Church confirmed she spoke the truth.
Since Bernadette first caused the spring to produce clean water, 70 cures have been verified by the Lourdes Medical Bureau, and after what the Church claimed were “extremely rigorous scientific and medical examinations”, no one was able to explain what caused the cures.
The Lourdes Commission that initially examined Bernadette, ran an analysis on the water but were only able to determine it contained a high mineral content. Bernadette believed it was Faith and Prayer that was responsible for curing the sick, and not the water itself.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is now one of the major Catholic / Spiritual pilgrimage sites in planet Earth. Many people have reported cures related to it, but never submitted themselves to the time-consuming procedures of the Lourdes Medical Bureau, so there are many thousands of genuine cures never officially recognized by the Catholic Church.
For instance, D. Scott Rogo, well known author of books of Parapsychology – including one of the best books in the field, “Life after Death: The Case for Survival of Bodily Death” -, explains in his book “Miracles” the authenticity of so many cures reported in the Grotto of Massabielle. (Douglas Scott Rogo was a writer, journalist and researcher on subjects related to Parapsychology, from the USA. He was found stabbed to death in his home on August 16, 1990. There were no signs of a struggle although a number of Rogo’s personal items were missing and his wallet was empty. His killer is still unknown and the case remains open).
We strongly believe that Bernadette Soubirous – an indigo child, was contacted by a Superior Spirit in the Grotto of Massabielle, Lourdes, France, with the purpose of helping people to reinforce their faith in Jesus message of Love through cure. The Catholic Church was used as a non-negative way of spreading this important message.