Celebrating the Feast of Saint Bernadette Soubirous

Celebrating the Feast of Saint Bernadette Soubirous

16 April: Feast of Saint Bernadette Soubirous. Bernadette was born in Lourdes, France in 1844. Her family lived in extreme poverty and Bernadette suffered from illnesses most of her life. At age fourteen, the Virgin Mary appeared to her near a cave at Massabielle. This was the first of eighteen apparitions. Mary identified herself as “The Immaculate Conception.” When Bernadette told of these visions, many didn’t believe and demanded she be put in an asylum. Bernadette remained firm and shared Mary’s message of the need for prayer and penance. The vision told her to “drink of the water of the spring, wash in it, and eat the herb that grew there”. Bernadette obeyed and the next day the grotto was transformed from a muddy mess to clear flowing water. Bernadette insisted that “the Lady” asked for a chapel to be built there. Today, close to 5 million pilgrims visit Lourdes each year to pray and to drink the miraculous water. Countless miracles have come from the waters. When Bernadette was twenty-two, she chose to withdraw from the world to the convent of Saint-Gildard with the Sisters of Charity of Nevers. She stayed there until her death in 1879. The name “Bernadette” means “brave as a bear.” 

To celebrate this feast day at home: 

  • Pray a family rosary together! Use this day to revive your family’s devotion to the Blessed Mother.
  • Give gummy bears as a treat to remind your children to be “brave as a bear” like Bernadette in sharing their faith. 
  • Eat pretzel sticks or rods to represent the firewood that St. Bernadette was collecting when Our Lady first appeared to her. Dip them in melted chocolate for a true feast day treat!
  • Watch one of the St. Bernadette movies on FORMED
  • Eat croissants for breakfast and prepare a French-themed dinner: perhaps a charcuterie board with cheeses and breads. Or, French onion soup and a chocolate soufflé dessert. Or, keep it crazy simple and enjoy “French” fries in memory of this humble French girl who became such an important saint.   
Feast of the Annunciation

Feast of the Annunciation

The Feast of the Annunciation is one of the most important in the Church calendar. It celebrates the actual Incarnation of Our Savior—the Word made flesh in the womb of His mother, Mary. It is the day that Mary proclaimed her Fiat, her yes to God. The moment she, without hesitation, submitted to the will of God and His plan for her life. Without her profound YES, God’s entire plan for salvation would have not unfolded. That yes was the most impactful, significant yes ever uttered. Typically this feast day falls during Lent on March 25th (this year due to it falling during Holy Week the feast is moved to April 8th) and is an opportunity to lay down the Lenten season of penance and fasting for a joyful celebration of this solemnity of Mary. 

The biblical account of the Annunciation is in the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke, which describes the news given to Mary that she was to become the mother of the Incarnation of God, records the “angelic salutation” of Gabriel to Mary, ‘Hail, thou who art highly favored. The Lord is with thee.” This is the origin of the repeated “Hail Mary” prayer of the Rosary; and Mary’s response to God’s will, “Let it be done to me according to thy word.” Her exultant hymn, the Magnificat, found in Luke 1:46-55, has been part of the Church’s liturgy of the hours, at Vespers (evening prayer), and has been repeated nightly in churches, convents and monasteries for many centuries.

The Feast of the Annunciation is a celebration of the actual Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

This special feast day brings to light the significance and importance of the value of children in the womb. That the story of Jesus began in his Incarnation, his miraculous conception, in the most vulnerable state of life. Children may, quite naturally, think that the birth of Jesus is the time when Our Savior first ‘became Man,’ especially since Christmas has become the Christian holiday in our culture. We understand best what we can see, what is visible. The invisible, the hidden, is no less real for our lack of seeing it. (We think of the baby in its mother’s womb, known and felt, though unseen, only to her.) Bringing this feast day into your domestic home is a profound way of helping children understand that life begins at conception and that Jesus was no different, God became “like us in all things except sin.” 

Ways to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation at home:

  1. Have your own ‘yes’ day! Spend the day saying ‘yes’ to your children (find the parameters and restrictions that are necessary for your family) and enjoy the peace that comes with less decision making! Remind your children that following God’s plan for our life often leads to a more peaceful and joyful life! (Children are also charged with saying ‘yes’ to mom and dad! It is a day of joy and fun, but also obedience and a great exercise in virtue for all involved!)
  2. Pray the magnificat or evening prayer as a family.
  3. Pray the joyful mysteries of the rosary or even the single decade of the annunciation. 
  4. Reading specific excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great opportunity to bring catechesis education home. Catechism #436-511 on Article 3 of the Creed, “He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary” will not only give adults a timely review of Catholic doctrine, but it can be a great help to us in transmitting important truths of the faith to our children. 
  5. Wear blue in honor of Mary
  6. Read passages from scripture this feast day, specifically Luke 1: 26-53.
  7. Bring a meal to a pregnant mother, donate to a pregnancy center like Birthright or St. Clare’s Home, and/or pray for expectant mothers.
  8. Look back on pictures of children when they were still in the womb, sonogram pictures or photos of mom while pregnant. 
  9. Eat waffles or seed cake. The word for waffle in Swedish is very close to the term for Virgin Mary, so it became the traditional Annunciation food. Enjoy a waffle today, adding strawberries to symbolize Mary’s fruitfulness. Or England’s traditional Annunciation food is the seed cake, which symbolizes Jesus, who became flesh as a seed in Mary’s womb. Enjoy a seed cake in memory of Mary’s motherhood.
  10. Decorate with lilies. The Lilium candidum or ‘Madonna lily’ is a symbol of the Annunciation. You can see it in paintings of the archangel Gabriel bringing the message to Mary as well as in paintings of Joseph, who was to care for Mary and the Son of God.