"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
(1 Jn 4:16)

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Keeping the Company of the Saints: St. Bernadette Soubirous

 "Every moment that I live I shall spend in loving."
~ St. Bernadette Soubirous ~

The Grotto at Lourdes
The Bells of the Angelus 
The bells of the Angelus, Call us to pray. 
In sweet tones announcing the sacred Ave 
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria. 
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.  
An angel of mercy, led Bernadette's feet, 
Where flows the deep torrent, Our Lady to greet. 
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria. 
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.  
Immaculate Mary, Our hearts are all thine. 
Protect us, your children, Who kneel at thy shrine. 
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria. 
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.
The Spring

Several years ago, on the Feast of our Blessed Mother's nativity and the days surrounding it, my husband, Catherine, and I were privileged to visit Lourdes with most of my family and some friends. Prior to thinking about or planning our trip to Lourdes, we learned that I was pregnant and decided that if we had another daughter, we would name her Bernadette. While we were in Lourdes, we read a plaque that shared the date of St. Bernadette's birth and I commented to my husband, "St. Bernadette's birthday is the day after my ultrasound due date."

Catherine at the Grotto

On St. Bernadette's birthday, I went to my doctor for a non-stress test and he told me, "You need to get to the hospital. You're having contractions every two minutes and you're 5 centimeters dilated." I wasn't feeling any pain or discomfort and had no idea that I was in labor. I asked the doctor if I could please call my husband before heading to the hospital. When my husband arrived at the hospital, I said to him, "This is a girl." He asked, "How do you know?" I responded, "Because it is St. Bernadette's birthday and we chose the name Bernadette for a girl." My husband jokingly replied, "Watch the baby be a boy." However, I knew in my heart that our baby was a girl.

Catherine and her daddy at the Grotto

For our daughter's Baptism, her godmother gave her goddaughter Fr. Lawrence Lovasik's Our Lady of Lourdes. Although I had watched The Song of Bernadette many times, I think that this was the first book that I ever read about "our Lady's little servant" and I thoroughly appreciated this children's book.

Some of my family, Bernadette's godmother, and me
outside St. Bernadette's home

As Bernadette grew, I knew that I wanted to teach her more about the patron saint after whom she was named. My parents gave her the video Bernadette: The Princess of Lourdes. My parents-in-law gave Bernadette their old copy of Saint Bernadette (A First Book for Little Catholics) (out of print) by Fr. Gales. I purchased Saint Bernadette Soubirous: And Our Lady of Lourdes by Anne Eileen Heffernan, FSP and Mary Elizabeth Tebo, FSP and the vision book Bernadette: Our Lady's Little Servant by Hertha Pauli. Last February, I read the latter book to all of my children. They all liked listening to and learning from the story. Bernadette expressed an interest in learning more about her patron saint, so I checked Bernadette Speaks: A Life of St. Bernadette Soubirous in Her Own Words by Rene Laurentin out from the library for her. She and her older sister enjoyed this book. We also watched Navis Pictures' film St. Bernadette of Lourdes on either February 11 or 18.


In the spring or early summer of this year, I spoke with Fr. Dennis Gordon, FSSP about the Catholic camps that he was hosting. During our conversation, we talked about St. Bernadette and he recommended the book, Saint Bernadette Soubirous: 1844-1879 by Abbe Francois Trochu. I am thankful that he did so.

My children gave me Saint Bernadette Soubirous: 1844-1879 for Christmas. This book gave me a greater appreciation of and love for St. Bernadette, and a great desire to return with my family to Lourdes and to visit Nevers (I became sick previously, so we didn't make it to Nevers). It also impressed on my mind that St. Bernadette didn't become a saint because she saw Our Lady of Lourdes; rather, she became a great saint because she did her best to live her life according to God's will. Only someone who was living their life according to God's will could write:
"O Jesus, keep me under the standard of your Cross... Let the crucifix be not merely before my eyes and on my breast, but in my heart, alive within me! Let me be crucified alive like Him, transformed into Him by the union of the Eucharist, by meditation on His life, on the inmost feelings of His Heart, drawing souls not to myself but to Him, from this high Cross to which His love fastens me alive for ever!"
~ Saint Bernadette Soubirous, pp. 341-342 ~
This month, as in years past, we will be receiving a call from my dad on February 18 (the day that the French celebrate St. Bernadette's feast day), wishing our daughter well on her patron saint's feast day. He is so good about remembering our special days. I wish that I were better about celebrating my children's name days. I am embarrassed to say that we often do nothing beyond mentioning that it is their patron saint's feast day and praying, "St. ____, pray for us" after our grace before meals. Other times, we will also read a book (if available) and/or watch a movie about the patron saint. Occasionally, we will have a special dessert on a name day. We have a special meal for the feast of St. Agnes on January 21 and the feast of St. Patrick on March 17. Hopefully, by being reminded who they are named after and by learning about their patron saints, my children will fall in love with their name saints and be inspired to live their lives according to God's will, embracing their crosses and thanking God for everything.

"...When you realize that God permits a thing,
you do not complain."

St. Bernadette, priez pour nous!

Immaculate Mary
(sung each evening by candlelight in Lourdes)

Immaculate Mary, thy praises we sing.
Who reignest in splendor with Jesus our King. 

Ave, AveAve, Maria! Ave, Ave, Maria!

In Heaven the blessed thy glory proclaim;
On earth we thy children invoke thy sweet name. 

Ave, AveAve, Maria! Ave, Ave, Maria!

Thy name is our power, thy virtues our light,
Thy love is our comfort, thy pleading our might.

Ave, AveAve, Maria! Ave, Ave, Maria!

We pray for our Mother, the Church upon earth,
And bless, Holy Mary, the land of our birth.

Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria! Ave, Ave, Maria! 

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

The Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes (an easier novena prayer) begins tomorrow, February 2, Candlemas (a.k.a. the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and ends on February 10, the day before the Feast of Our Lady Lourdes. We will be praying one of the above novena prayers for our baby who I will be holding in my arms the day after the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.


  1. This is so beautiful Christine and totally in keeping with our topic this week! St. Bernadette is a great patron for your daughter and I am so glad you posted all the books, so many I have not seen yet. God Bless You! We will be praying a novena as well. Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for us! and St. Bernadette, pray for us!

    1. Thank you, Meredith. May God bless you! I am so thankful for "Keeping the Company of the Saints".

  2. This is a great post, Christine! I've wished for a long time to visit Lourdes, but have never yet had an opportunity to do so. Maybe someday I will.
    Would Saint Bernadette Soubirous: 1844-1879 be a book you would recommend for a fourteen year old? My sister's birthday is just over a month away and when I asked her what she wants she responded, "Books, please!"

    1. Hi Kate,

      Thank you. Yes, I do think that this book would be good for a fourteen year old and one that she will be able to revisit many times over the years. I told one of my daughters who is similar in age to your sister that she could borrow my book from me. If your sister is anything like my two oldest daughters, she should like the book. If you would like some other ideas, please email me and I will ask my two oldest daughters what books they recommend. May God bless you!

  3. I remember seeing this book out all the time when I was a teen. My mom loves St. Bernadette and this book always seemed to be out on the coffee table.I really love the book 12 STEPS TO HOLINESS AND SALVATION. Easy read, but very rich. Its by St. Alphonsus Liguori.

    1. I put the book in our living room yesterday. Your mom and I must think alike. :) I will have to try and get my hands on St. Alphonsus Liguori's book. Thank you for the recommendation, Gwen.

  4. I received a beautiful holy card w St Bernadette & all the info on the apparitions on the back of it&fell in love w Bernadette. When I went to Lourdes in 2014,I felt like sweet Bernadette was w me the entire time I was in Lourdes. It was the most awesome experience of my life!


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I hope that you have a wonderful day! God bless you!

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