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Bernadette of Lourdes (1844–1879)

French nun and saint. Name variations: Bernadette Soubirous. Born Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes in the French Pyrenees on January 7, 1844; died in 1879; daughter of François and Louise (Casterot) Soubirous.

Born into a poor family, Bernadette Soubirous was placed into domestic service from the age of 12 to 14, until she returned home to prepare for her first Communion. On February 11, 1858, at age 14, she claimed that the Virgin Mary appeared in the crevasse of a rock on the bank of the Gave as she was collecting firewood with her sister and a friend. From then until July 16th, the Virgin reappeared 18 times; it was said she imparted miraculous powers of healing to the waters of a spring near a grotto and entered into conversations with the young girl: "I promise to make you happy, if not in this world, at least in the next," was imparted on February 18 and "I am the Immaculate Conception" on March 25.

The visions were declared authentic by the Roman Catholic Church, and the Lourdes grotto became a shrine for pilgrims. In 1866, Bernadette joined the Sisters of Charity, a group of women bound by annual vows to religious and charitable work, at Nevers, France, and nursed the wounded in the Franco-Prussian war (1870–71). In 1877, she became a nun. Bernadette was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1933. Her feast day is on April 16.

The Song of Bernadette, a film based on the novel of the same name by Franz Werfel, starred Jennifer Jones (who won an Academy Award for Best Actress in the role) and Anne Revere . Produced by 20th Century-Fox in 1943, the film was a major box-office success and was nominated for Best Movie of the Year.

Bernadette of Lourdes (1844–1879)

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