St Bernadette was born in 1844 to a poor family in Lourdes, in France. She was baptised when she was 2 days old at her parish church in Lourdes. Bernadette was one of 9 children.
Bernadette was 13 years old when she started to learn French, and to read and write. She was the eldest daughter, so she was put in charge of her brothers and sisters while her parents worked. She couldn’t go to school because she had to help her family.
One day Bernadette went to collect firewood with her sister and a friend when something happened that completely changed her life and the place where she lived.
This was the first of 18 visions, when she described seeing ‘a small young lady’. She said that the beautiful lady had told her to go back, but Bernadette’s Mother didn’t want her to.
Bernadette’ described her as the lady, but it was really the Virgin Mary, the mother of God. Bernadette was the only person to see her.
The lady told Bernadette to drink from the spring that flowed under the rock. So, she tried digging into the mud, until eventually she found clear drinking water. But the onlookers, just saw mud on her face and didn’t believe her.
But in the next few days a spring flowed, and people thought the water had special healing powers. People still visit the spring today in the hope that it will heal and cure them. Bernadette always believed that faith and prayer cured the sick.
Bernadette decided that she wanted to devote her life to God. She went to a convent in Nevers. She spent the rest of her life there, helping others and creating beautiful, embroidered garments for church. She died on 16th April at the age of 35.
The feast day of St Bernadette is April 16th