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St. Bernadette

St. Bernadette Soubirous was a poor, uneducated, peasant girl, who lived in the small milling town of Lourdes, France. On February 11, 1858, when she was 14, Bernadette enjoyed the first of many visits from the Blessed Virgin Mary, who appeared to her as she gathered firewood with her sister and a friend. The message of Lourdes was a simple one: prayer and penitence. In one of her appearances, the apparition identified herself by saying, "Tell them I am the Immaculate Conception." Eventually, thousands of people crowded the meadow overlooking the grotto where the Virgin Mary appeared. Eventually Bernadette joined the quiet convent of St. Gildard in Nevers, France, where she served the ill and infirm. She died on April 16, 1879, at age 35. Her last months were filled with suffering. Bernadette was a simple human being with a deep faith in God--a saint within our grasp. She was recognized as such by the Roman Catholic Church when she was canonized in 1933.