Bernadette of Lourdes

Excerpt from Chapter 25 of Christ’s Faithful Servants, copyright 2023

. . . The third trip to the grotto occurred a few days later, on Thursday, February 18th. When Bernadette and the two ladies arrived, Bernadette once again saw the Beautiful Lady, and her companions saw nothing. This time Bernadette did not go into a trance—indeed, at the request of her two friends, she asked the Lady several questions, and seemed to carry on a conversation with her. During this visit, the Beautiful Lady asked Bernadette to return daily to the grotto for fifteen days, and Bernadette readily agreed. The Lady also told Bernadette, “I do not promise to make you happy in this world, but in the next.” When Bernadette asked her name, the Lady only smiled.

Fifteen Days. Bernadette returned to the grotto every day for fifteen days, and saw the Beautiful Lady on thirteen of those visits. During this time she attracted considerable attention, both within Lourdes and beyond. When she was there praying, people described her as exhibiting an unnatural, other-worldly beauty, as if somehow illuminated from within. She kept her eyes open, but seemed to be intently focused on something that held joy and fascination for her—something no one else could see.

A physician in Lourdes noted that her pulse and respiration appeared normal when she was in her trance-like state at Massabielle. A local government official, Monsieur Jean Baptiste Estrade, documented many conversations he had with, and between, Bernadette and various officials. Many people tried to convince Bernadette that her visions were an illusion. Others searched for inconsistencies or contradictions in her story. They all failed. Even when the Chief of Police of Lourdes, Monsieur Jacomet, threatened to put her in jail if she returned to Massabielle, Bernadette continued to insist that the Lady was real.

She went back to the grotto even after perhaps her cruelest test on February 22nd. This was the day after the Chief of Police had threatened to put her in jail. Her parents ordered her to stay away. She went anyway—and saw nothing. On her way home she was taunted by those who were skeptical of her story. But on February 23rd she returned again.

On February 25th, Bernadette’s Lady instructed her to “Go drink from the fountain and wash in it!” Confused, Bernadette looked around and then began to dig in the ground. Soon a small pool of water appeared. Bernadette drank from it and washed her face. Within two days, the pool had become a small stream. Bernadette had somehow discovered a hitherto unknown spring of water. Within weeks, miracles would be attributed to its waters, such as the curing of a paralyzed child and the restoration of sight to a blind stonecutter. . . .

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