St Bernadette on Prayer Cloth (Patron for the Sick)
St Bernadette on Prayer Cloth (Patron for the Sick) was born in Lourdes, France on January 7, 1844. Her parents were very poor and she was the first of nine children. Unfortunately, she lived her life in poor health.
On Thursday, February 11, 1858, a very beautiful lady appeared to her above a rose bush in a grotto.
The woman wore blue and white and smiled at St Bernadette Set. She then made the sign of the cross with a rosary of ivory and gold. Bernadette fell to her knees, took out her own rosary and began to pray. Bernadette later described the woman as a small young lady. Though her sister and friend claimed they were unable to see her, Bernadette knew what she saw was real.
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 Virgin Mary and the period of daily visions became known as “la Quinzaine sacrée,” meaning “holy fortnight.”
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.
On March 2, at the thirteenth of the apparitions, Bernadette told her family the lady sad “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. Bernadette asked again, three more times, and finally the woman said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
Church authorities and the French government rigorously interviewed the girl, and by 1862 they confirmed she spoke truth. Since Bernadette first caused the spring to produce clean water. 69 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. Bernadette believed it was faith and prayer that was responsible for curing the sick.
Bernadette asked the local priest to build a chapel at the site of her visions and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is now one of the major Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. Many other chapels and churches has been built around it, including the Basilica of St. Pius X, which can accommodate 25,000 people and was dedicated by the future Pope John XXIII when he was the Papal Nuncio to France.