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.