Bernadette SOUBIROUS

Family tree of Bernadette SOUBIROUS

Saint, Priest, nun, rabbi, imam...

FrenchBorn Marie-Bernarde SOUBIROUS

French miller's daughter, she was canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church in 1933

Born on January 7, 1844 in Lourdes , France

Died on April 16, 1879 in Nevers , France

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Bernadette was the daughter of François Soubirous (1807–1871), a miller, and his wife Louise (née Castérot) (1825–1866), a laundress, and was the eldest of five children who survived infancy. Louise actually gave birth to nine children (Bernadette, Jean born and died 1845, Toinette 1846-1892, Jean-Marie 1848–1851, Jean-Marie 1851-1919, Justin 1855–1865, Pierre 1859-1931, Jean born and died 1864 and a baby girl named Louise who died soon after her birth 1866). Bernadette was born on 7 January 1844, and baptized at the local parish church, St. Pierre's, on 9 January, her parents' wedding anniversary. Bernadette's godmother was Bernarde Casterot, her mother's sister, a moderately well-off widow who owned a tavern. Hard times had fallen on France and the family lived in extreme poverty. Neighbours reported that the family lived in unusual harmony, apparently relying on their love and support for one another and their religious devotion. Bernadette contracted cholera as a toddler and suffered severe asthma for the rest of her life.

Bernadette's impoverished family lived in a single un-heated room. On 11 February 1858, Bernadette, then aged 14, was out gathering firewood and bones with her sister and a friend at the grotto of Massabielle outside Lourdes, when she had an experience that completely changed her life and the town of Lourdes where she had lived. It was on this day that Bernadette claimed she had the first of 18 visions of what she termed "a small young lady" (ua petita damisela (Classical) uo petito damizelo (Mistralian)) standing in a niche in the rock. Her sister and her friend stated that they had seen nothing. On her next visit, she said that the "beautiful lady" asked her to return to the grotto every day for fifteen days. At first her mother had forbidden her to go, and Bernadette could not persuade her mother to allow her to go. The supposed apparition did not identify herself until the seventeenth vision, although the townspeople who believed she was telling the truth assumed she saw the Virgin Mary. Bernadette never claimed it to be Mary, calling what she saw simply "Aquerò" (or rather "that one"), aquerò being Gascon Occitan for that. Bernadette described the lady as wearing a white veil, a blue girdle, and had a golden rose on each foot; she held a rosary of pearls.


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Geographical origins

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