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The Story of St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes

Feb 11, 2017 By Gretchen Filz

February 11 is the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, one of the most famous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary that took place in southern France. On this day in 1858 a young, poor girl named Bernadette Soubirous was out collecting firewood with her sister and another friend near a grotto when she saw a vision of a lovely lady.

In the words of St. Bernadette,

"I raised my head and looked towards the grotto. I saw a Lady dressed in white, wearing a white dress, a blue girdle and a yellow rose on each foot, the same color as the chain of her Rosary."  

In the vision Our Lady was praying the rosary.

The Story of St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes

Bernadette reluctantly told her parents of the apparition, and in response they forbade her from going back to the grotto.  A few days later, on February 14th, Bernadette was permitted to return to the grotto, and again the Lady appeared to her.  This happened again on February 18th.  On this third visit the Lady asked Bernadette to come back to the grotto every day for the next two weeks.

At these subsequent visits the Lady (who had not yet identified herself as the Blessed Virgin Mary) asked for a chapel to be built on the grounds, for Bernadette to pray for the conversion of sinners, and for her to drink the spring water that was revealed to her at the grotto.

Word of these apparitions spread rapidly and caused quite a stir in town.  In response, Bernadette was detained, interrogated, and harassed by the civil authorities as if she were a common criminal. The villagers, however, came to her rescue and demanded that the child be released.

Through all these difficulties that came to her because of the apparitions, Bernadette was given an interior strength:

"There was something in me that enabled me to rise above everything.  I was tackled from all sides, but nothing mattered and I was not afraid."

The Story of St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes

Many of the townspeople believed that Mary was appearing to Bernadette, and they came down in large numbers to the grotto to pray.  The spring that the Lady asked Bernadette to drink from quickly revealed itself to be blessed water with miraculous healing properties.

On March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation, the Lady appeared at the grotto again, this time identifying herself as the Immaculate Conception.

"With her two arms hanging down, she raised her eyes and looked up at the sky, and it was then that she told me, joining her hands together now at the height of her breast, that she was the Immaculate Conception. Those were the last words she ever said to me."

The Marian dogma of the Immaculate Conception had only recently been pronounced by Pope Pius IX a few years previous, on December 8, 1854. This infallibly defined dogma declared that the Blessed Virgin Mary, "from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of original sin is a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful."

As for herself, Bernadette suffered much, not only through physical suffering due to her chronic poor health, but also through the jealousy and suspicion from others because she was given the grace of visits from the Blessed Mother.  This proved true the words Our Lady spoke to Bernadette at the grotto, "I do not promise to make you happy in this world, but in the other."

The Story of St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes

Four years after Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to St. Bernadette, the local bishop ruled that the apparitions were authentic.  St. Bernadette eventually entered a religious house where she continued to suffer physically, uniting her suffering to Christ, and died at an early age.

Today a beautiful church has been erected on the grounds near the grotto at Lourdes. After Rome and the Holy Land, Lourdes, France is the most popular place of pilgrimage for Catholic faithful. The water of Lourdes is readily available to all pilgrims, and numerous healings have been medically documented to have occurred there, as well as conversions to the faith because of these miracles. St. Bernadette's feast day is February 18th.

The Story of St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes

This article has been updated and was originally published in February 2013. © The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.


Erlinda says
Feb 13 2019 5:43AM
St Bernadette .pls for me ,and our Lady of Lourdes ,and pray for family and lovesones who suffering from sickness my nephew,i had my biopsy yesterday ,im asking you that the result is should be good And i sak for totally healed for my husband your healing power Our Lady of Lourdes and St .Bernadette We trust in you.And pray for my family always have love ,humility,patience and ask for good health grandchildren. Our Lady of Lourdes ,St.Bernadette pray for amen n amen...
Annie says
Feb 11 2019 11:18PM
I was so blessed to go to Lourdes,France with my church friends and experienced the mass in the Grotto where Mama Mary appeared to St. St. Bernadette and visited the humble place where St. Bernadette lived and the museum of the Apparitions. If given the chance again, I want to go back to Lourdes. I felt indescribable joy when I was there.
Joseph W,D.Walker says
Feb 11 2019 5:25PM
My mother made a pilgrimage to Lourdes, many years ago.

I made a pilgrimage to Fatima with three of my fathers sisters.

I thank the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ for her great love for us all. Joe Walker aged 81,
Filomena says
Feb 11 2019 2:26PM
I got to visit the Lourdes grotto in 2001 and was so happy l did. I brought some holy water back with me and pray that l was lucky to get to go there. I have a son who was born Our Ladys feast day and today he 57 years old. I believe in miracles and Our Blessed Virgin Mary and all that she does. Thank you Lord for giving me that chance to go.
Joleen says
Feb 10 2019 6:35PM
Wonderful article and story! My birthday is February 11th and I believe in the Blessed Virgin’s love, influence and power so much. I am 56 and have severe chronic pain everyday that no seems to be able to lessen... I need to learn to take my suffering and do more positive things with it and through it.
Patricia says
Feb 10 2019 6:08PM
I love St. Bernadette and chose her for my confirmation name many years ago. ???? Her Feast Day is April is often marked on February 18 in France.
Mary says
Aug 24 2018 9:37PM
I was once a member of Birhen of Lourdes in our Town Church and it was so good and nice for me because it helps me strengthen my faith on her specially facing struggles in my journey since I was still a student. It helps me stand firm whenever I fell down in whatever mistakes I've made.. Thank you Mary of Lourdes for your unending love to us even if sometimes we are cruel and fool.. Hoping miracles to happen in our family..
Alicia says
May 22 2018 8:02PM
Please pray for my friend who works at Our Lady Of Lourdes hospital. Hes miserable there. It doesnt seem to b a catholic hospital anymore. I pray he can find a job that he likes and can grow closer to God through it. I was hoping it would be closer to me or to his daughter but Gods will be done. Amen.
Lucas Picca says
May 4 2018 1:09AM

Karen Gaetano says
Apr 20 2018 10:42PM
I remember watching the movie when I was about 12. I was so moved by it. My birthday is February 11th and I was born in Our Lady Of Lourdes Hospital.
Magdalene Njue says
Apr 19 2018 2:51PM
I have loved the apparition story. In my own little ways I greatly love Mother Mary. Indeed She is a never failing mother to me. Hail Mary... Will be visiting France soon and i hope to visit your grotto oh Immaculate Conception
Viviane abi rached says
Apr 4 2018 7:34PM
1st April 2018 at Easter .Thanks jesus for all your graces I was so lucky and thankful because I came and visit saint lourdes with my son Anthony , I felt so blessed and happy when I saw saint Mary when I was in the water I ask you our st mary to allow me seing you and protect always all my family Amen.
Betty Meyerhoefer says
Mar 20 2018 7:53PM
When I was a young girl, I saw the movie on St Bernadette and just loved her from then on. She became a favorite Saint of mine, forever. I believe in that story of Our Blessed Mother appearing to St Bernadette.
The Queen's Supremacy says
Feb 12 2018 6:42PM
My name is Romeo T. from the Philippines. My dream is to be able to go to Lourdes. My birthday is on the feast of Annunciation March 25.

God bless
Beatrice says
Feb 11 2018 3:10PM
When I was 5 an apparition appeared to me every night for a week but I was so scared I didn't realize who it was. I now know that it was the Virgen Mary. She was illuminated brightly at the foot of my bed. I will never forget her.????
Rachel says
Feb 10 2018 9:22PM
I love the story of Saint Bernadette. She is my favorite Saint. I pray to her a lot and I know she hears me. I wish I could go to Lourdes to see her beautiful body in that glass coffin. My mother told me about her story and how she saw a beautiful Lady The Immaculate Conception. My mother said I look like Bernadette. Same face and height and I was the dumbest girl in my class like Bernadette called herself stupid. I always felt stupid too. I love Saint Bernadette.
Francis Mary says
Dec 11 2017 5:42PM
I love being Catholic for it's only here that these mysterious things happen. I thank God for the immaculate conception of mother Mary. St. Bernadette pray for us
Craig says
Sep 3 2017 3:00AM
I believe she saw Mary. She teaches us that the trials of life make heaven that much greater. Her views, on informing, in contrast to convincing, show an extrordinary maturity.
Jul 14 2017 6:15AM
St Bernadette of Lourdes please be my intercessor together with my Mother, the virgin Mary. I have a lot of needs and petitions to make and God knows everything about them. I pray for my family members: my Husband and children and for peace and harmony in my entire family, success and breakthrough in all our needs, financial and otherwise. You are my patron saint because I was baptised Bernadette. I pray that one day I will be able to visit Lourdes, your birth and resting place. St Bernadette and Mother Mary. Pray for me.
Yufenyuy Yves says
Jul 7 2017 11:28AM
How blessed Am I, I Can't Explain To Know About Our Lady Of Lourdes, Stay With Us In This Time Of TemptationS
Clinton says
Mar 23 2017 6:02PM
Beautiful! I am deeply devoted to the Holy Trinity, Our Lady and the Saints and always will be.
Clinton says
Mar 23 2017 5:57PM
Beautiful! I am deeply devoted to Our Lady and the Saints and always will be.
Mary-Anne T. Murray says
Feb 12 2017 11:53AM
In the article, it said, March 25, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception....December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception...March 25th is the Feast of the Annunciation. Beautiful story. Thank you.
Thank you for catching that mistake, Mary-Anne! We've made the correction.
Please pray for my family. My oldest daug. is Robin she is married and has three daug. My second daug. is Rhonda she has two girls. and My two sisters, one Mary is a widow of three yrs or so. The youngest is Pat was married and had a son. The son killed himself. I ask you to look over my family and supply each with their needs. Be it physical, money, spiritual healing. Please I ask in the name Of Jesus for all to find peace with God our Father. Amen
Frances says
Feb 11 2017 9:53PM
When I was confirmed in 1967, I took St. Bernadette as my Confirmation name. I was so impressed with the movie "The Song of Bernadette" starring Jennifer Jones as Bernadette, when I was a little girl. Our Lady of Lourdes has always been special to me. My home Parish has Our Lady of Lourdes displayed near our main alter.

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Commentary by

Gretchen Filz Gretchen Filz

Gretchen is a Lay Dominican with a passion for fostering an increase in Catholic faith and devotion through content writing and journalism. She works as a digital content writer, creator, and marketer for The Catholic Company. In addition to blogging at, she is also editor of the daily devotional email and author at She holds an M.A. in Christian Apologetics and converted to the Catholic Church in 2011. She is also active in R.C.I.A., pro-life work, and various faith-based web projects.

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