Saturday, February 18, 2012

more french saints!


Exactly one week after the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (more here), France celebrates the unofficial feast of St. Bernadette, the young, unsuspecting country girl to whom Mary appeared 18 times. Her official feast day in the Roman Calendar is April 16 (the day that she died), but France recognizes today as her feast because of a very special reason. 

relics of st. bernadette at the basilica in lourdes

On February 18, 1858, Mary appeared to St. Bernadette for the third time. Bernadette, who still did not know who this beautiful woman who was appearing to her was, timidly asked for her name. Mary did not reveal her name to Bernadette, but she did ask her to come back for 15 days, and that she would make Bernadette happy not in this world, but in the next. This little exchange was very significant to Bernadette--particularly because of the respect with which Mary spoke to her. As an impoverished, illiterate girl from a disgraced family in the mountains, Bernadette was not used to being spoken to kindly and with such respect. She was moved by this, and that helped to change her fear to admiration and fervor.

The French recognize this important apparition, and it is quite fitting to celebrate the feast of St. Bernadette today. Mary fulfilled her promise; Bernadette suffered greatly on Earth, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But she is a saint in the glory of heaven, she beholds the Father and knows the greatest joy any soul can ever know. Mama Mary took care of her on Earth so that Christ could take care of her for eternity.

pax christi.

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