Bernadette was the daughter of a miller in the town of Lourdes. Her family was very poor but very devout in their faith. She was always sick. One day when she was fourteen years, she was out gathering firewood with her sister and a friend. They reached a river. There was washed up wood on the other side of the river near a little grotto. A grotto is a small cave.
Bernadette had a bad cough and remembering that her mother told her not to get wet did not want to cross the river. Her sister and friend ran across the river and Bernadette not wanting to be left took off her shoes and stockings to cross the river. As she was about to cross the river she heard a noise like a gust of wind and saw the bushes above the grotto moving. Behind the bushes was something white and on looking closer, Bernadette realized it was a Lady.
The Lady had on a white veil which went all the way down to her feet. There was a yellow rose on each of her feet. The Lady’s hands were slightly apart and she had a Rosary in her hand. She had a most beautiful smile and there was light all around her. Bernadette thought that she reminded her of a statue of Our Lady that she would kneel and pray before. Bernadette knelt before the Lady and prayed. This lady was our Blessed Mother.
Bernadette’s sister and friend came back from collecting firewood and Bernadette asked them if they had seen anything. They had not. Bernadette whispered to her sister what she had seen. Her sister told her mother about the Lady Bernadette had seen but she did not believe her and told her she was perhaps dreaming. She told her to forget about what she had seen but Bernadette could not forget, she knew it was not a dream.
Bernadette went back to the grotto and again she saw the Lady. Some people went with her but they could not see anything. They realized that Bernadette was seeing and talking to someone! Some of them thought that she was a little mad or playing a trick on them. They tried to prevent Bernadette from going to the grotto and praying and hoping to see the Lady.
Bernadette had seen the Lady sixteen times by this time. There was a very large crowd of people that would go to watch Bernadette pray at the grotto. One day the crowd saw Bernadette crawl on her knees up and down the grotto. She would scrape the mud at the bottom of a dirty puddle, drink some of the water and splash some on her face. The crowd was convinced that Bernadette was mad. They did not see the Lady or heard when she told Bernadette to “go and drink at the fountain and wash yourself in it.” The Lady had pointed to a spot in the grotto. All Bernadette could see was a dirty puddle but she knew that she must do as the Lady had told her. The people asked her why she was playing in the mud. She told them the Lady told her to do it and she obeyed. Bernadette asked the Lady her name. She smiled and looked to Heaven and said “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Her message was to pray for sinners. She asked that a chapel be built near the grotto.
Most of the crowd left because they believed that Bernadette was playing a trick on them but some remained. They saw the little puddle that Bernadette was scrapping in turn into a little stream of clear water had bubbled up from a spring that no one had known of until the Lady pointed it out to Bernadette. The spring would have healing powers! A blind man from the town heard about what had happened and sent his daughter to bring him some of the water to him. When he washed his eyes with the water he could see! This was the first of many miracles that have happened and continue to happen all because of the obedience of a young girl.
Later, Bernadette became a nun. Her life was one of joy. She died, at the age of thirty-six.