Bernadette was born on 7th January 1844 and two days later, on her parents’ first wedding anniversary, was baptised in the old parish church of St Pierre. Her baptismal name was Marie-Bernarde. In the last century, among peasant communities, marriages were often arranged withthe couple having little say in their choice of partner. This had almost been the case for Bernadette’s father, François Soubirous, a miller. Claire Casterot, a widow who lived at the Boly Mill with her six children, did her best to persuade François to marry her eldest daughter, Bernarde, but François had eyes only for the second daughter Louise. François and Louise were married on 9th January 1843. François was 34 and Louise just 17. They made their home at the Boly Mill with the rest of the Casterot family.
The Boly Mill can still be seen today in Rue Bernadette Soubirous. Considerable renovation took place in 1988 and it is now open to the public though access is difficult for people in wheelchairs and for those of reduced mobility. The Parish Church of St Pierre was destroyed by fire in 1904; a war memorial and underground car park occupy this site today. The old granite font in which Bernadette was baptised was saved and can be seen in the new Church in Rue de L’Eglise. It is still used for Baptism.
Bernadette’s parents were happily married but they had a difficult life. When Bernadette was ten months old, her mother was badly burnt and was unable to breast feed her so Bernadette was sent to the nearby hamlet of Bartrès to a Marie Aravant Lagues who had just lost her first born son, Jean, eighteen days old. Marie Lagues fed and cared for Bernadette for five francs a month, but soon became attached to the child and was not at all keen to let her go back to her parents. François visited Bartrès frequently and patiently awaited the return of his daughter. Bernadette had turned two years old when she eventually returned to her family in Lourdes.
While Bernadette was being cared for at Bartrès, Louise gave birth to a son, Jean,who lived only two months. François and Louise had nine children but five didn’t survive beyond the age of ten. Of the four who did reach adulthood, Bernadette’s brother Jean-Marie alone has descendants alive today.
Bernadette’s family ought to have had a comfortable living at the mill; her parents worked hard but some customers took advantage of their kindness and generosity and didn’t pay their bills. Beggars found a ready welcome and food from the kind-hearted Louise, but this eventually caused them to lose the mill. Non-payment of their bills meant that they too had insufficient funds to pay their rent and were forcedto seek a cheaper mill. From this point on, things went from bad to worse as the family moved from one house to another, each one simpler than the one before,which was just as well since they had to sell their furniture in order to survive. A cholera epidemic in 1855 and a famine in 1856 added to their difficulties.
In 1857 the family, completely destitute, found refuge at Le Cachot, a disused prison cell. The upper part of this building was occupied by a cousin, André Sajous and his family. The prison cell, a room about 4 metres square, was considered unfit for habitation and had been abandoned some thirty years earlier. This was where the family of six lived at the time of the apparitions. It was damp, smelly and overcrowded. They possessed two beds between the six of them, mother, father, Bernadette, Toinette, her sister and her two brothers: Jean-Marie and Justin. Was it any wonder that Bernadette was in poor health? Yet as the eldest she also had responsibilities at home and little hope of attending school. François found what work he could as a day labourer.
Despite such appalling conditions, the family remained true to their faith. Their neighbour and cousin, André Sajous, recorded in the accounts of Lourdes how he heard them praying the Rosary together each night. Le Cachot can be seen today in Rue des Petit Fosses (see In the footsteps of Bernadette)
Bernadette had occasional relief from the claustrophobic conditions of the Cell when she visited her former foster mother in Bartrès. The mountain air was a tonic for her as she cared for the sheep. She was in Bartrès through the winter of 1857 and during her stay, was supposed to be preparing for her first Holy Communion but Bernadette, tired in the evenings after a day’s work, found the lessons difficult. This was hardly surprising when one considers that at the age of thirteen she had never attended school regularly and her foster mother, Marie Lagues, was not renowned for her patience!
Bernadette’s strong desire to make her first Holy Communion was a deciding factor in her return to Lourdes shortly after her fourteenth birthday. She exchanged the sweet mountain air for the squalor of the gaol but it was good to be with her family once more and to experience their love which she had missed in Bartrès. The week after her return, Bernadette started school with the Sisters of Nevers in order to prepare for her first Holy Communion. Three weeks to the day after her return from Bartrès she was to experience the first of the apparitions.
“A beautiful girl dressed in white”
On Thursday 11th February 1858, Bernadette set out from her home to gather firewood. She was accompanied by her sister Toinette and a friend, Jean Abadie (nicknamed Baloum). It was a bitterly cold and drizzly day and Louise, concerned for Bernadette’s asthma, needed some persuading before she reluctantly agreed to her joining the others.
The three girls made their way to the bridge over the Gave; about 300 metres after crossing the bridge they followed the course of the canal stream from the Savy Mill to the point where it rejoined the Gave. The route today would be as follows: Rue des Petit Fosses, Rue de la Grotte, PontVieux, Avenue Bernadette Soubirous, St Joseph’s Gate, down the slope, across the square in front of the Basilicas, under the Arches and then left to the Grotto. The Savy Mill stood close to where the Crowned Statue is today. The Forum Information now occupies the site.
The canal stream and the river met close to a small cave or grotto at the foot of a rocky cliff known as Massabielle. There was a lot of wood strewn along the base of the cliff so the two younger girls kicked off their clogs and waded through the icy waters of the stream. Bernadette, mindful of her mother’s warnings about an asthma attack, hesitated but then sat down to remove her shoes and stockings. She had just removed the first stocking when she heard a noise like a gust of wind. She looked around but the trees were not moving. All was still. She heard the same sound again as she bent to take off her second stocking. This time however she noticed the branches of a wild rosebush moving. The rose was high on the wall of the grotto.
In a dark recess behind the rose she saw what she described as a gentle light and a beautiful girl dressed in white who smiled at her and beckoned her. Bernadette was filled with fear, yet felt compelled to stay and to pray. She blinked her eyes several times to convince herself that she was not dreaming. This is part of her account of the first apparition: “I put my hand in my pocket, and found my rosary. I wanted to make the Sign of the Cross but couldn’t raise my hand to my forehead. The Vision made the Sign of the Cross. Then I tried a second time and I could. As soon as I had made the Sign of the Cross, the fearful shock I felt disappeared. I knelt down and said my rosary in the presence of the beautiful Lady. The vision fingered her beads but she did not move her lips. When I finished my rosary, she signed for me to approach, but I did not dare. Then she disappeared, just like that.”
The Spot where Bernadette first saw Our Lady is marked with a plaque set in paving stones in front and slightly to the left of the Grotto.
After the apparition, Bernadette crossed the stream to join her companions. They had seen her at prayer whilst they were busy collecting wood and were none too pleased with her idleness. The girls went back by way of the steep hillside behind the grotto and Bernadette asked the others if they had seen anything but they hadn’t. Bernadette told her sister what had happened. Toinette, in spite of her promise to keep quiet, told their mother. An Aunt suggested it must have been an hallucination. François was angry and both parents were concerned at their eldest daughter’s strange behaviour.
The Second Apparition
Three days passed before Bernadette could go back to Massabielle. Her mother had forbidden her to return to the grotto but after High Mass on Sunday 14th February, Bernadette and two friends pleaded with Louise and she relented. This time the girls went by way of the forest road and down to the grotto from the top of the old rock (following what is today the zig-zag path). On reaching the grotto Bernadette started her rosary. As she began the second decade, her face changed. The lady had appeared to her. Bernadette referred to the apparition as “Aquerò” – a term in the local dialect meaning “that” yet a most respectful term. As in all of the apparitions, the vision was visible to Bernadette alone. She sprinkled some holy water at the apparition and asked her to step forward if she was from God. The Lady smiled . . . and moved slightly towards Bernadette. Suddenly a small boulder, pushed by
Jeanne Abadie, crashed down the cliff face. Bernadette’s companions fled part in fear but also to seek the help of a local miller for Bernadette had remained entranced through all the commotion. Bernadette was such a dead weight that Nicolau needed all of his strength to lift her and carry her back to his mill. He declared he had never seen anything so beautiful as Bernadette in a state of ecstasy.
Rumour of the events spread through the town and Louise, deeply concerned for her child and at the publicity, forbade Bernadette to return to the grotto. The situation changed when a Madame Milhet, a respected lady of the town, asked that she and her seamstress, Antoinette Peyret, might accompany Bernadette to the grotto. After early morning Mass on Thursday 18th February, the three of them made their way to the grotto. They said the Rosary together. As they finished, Antoinette handed Bernadette paper, pen and ink and asked her to ask the Vision to write her name on the paper. Bernadette did as she was told, but the Lady smiled and said: “It is not necessary for me to write what I have to say to you.” These were the first words spoken by the Apparition and were said in patois, the local dialect. Continuing in patois, the Lady added: “Would you have the graciousness to come here every day for fifteen days?’’ Bernadette readily agreed on condition that her parents gave her permission. (Bernadette was amazed that she, a child, should be addressed so courteously; the lady’s phrasing was a most polite form of request and would normally be used only when speaking to adults.) The Lady then added: “I do not promise to make you happy in this world, but in the next.”
A fortnight of apparitions
After much agonising, Bernadette’s parents allowed her to respond to the lady’s request. Bernadette left early on the morning of Friday 19th February with her mother and Aunt Bernarde, Louise’s elder sister and Bernadette’s godmother. Eight people were present for the fourth apparition. The beauty of Bernadette’s face during the apparition moved her mother deeply and caused her to ask: “Who is it that she sees?”
On the Saturday, Bernadette, her mother and Aunt Lucille were joined by some thirty people for the fifth apparition. The Lady taught Bernadette a prayer which she kept to herself.
On Sunday 21st February, the crowd had swollen to over a hundred. Bernadette revealed that during the apparition, Aquerò looked sad and when Bernadette asked what troubled her, the lady said: “Pray for sinners.” Dr Dozous, a local doctor was present and examined Bernadette whilst she was in ecstasy. He found her pulse and breathing to be normal with no sign of excitement. (Dr Dozous originally was a sceptic but later became convinced that Bernadette did experience a number of apparitions; further he himself believed the Apparition to be Our Lady).
It was also on this day that the police intervened and Bernadette had to undergo the first of a series of interrogations. After Vespers, Bernadette was confronted by Police Commissioner Jacomet and was interrogated by him at his home. Also present wereJean-Baptiste Estrade, the excise tax officer, and Estrade’s sister. Jacomet tried to trick Bernadette by distorting the things she told him in answer to his questions, but through this and all other interviews she remained faithful to her account of what she had seen.
When Jacomet said: “So then, Bernadette, you see this Holy Virgin?”
Bernadette replied: “I do not say that I have seen the Holy Virgin.”
Jacomet: “Ah, good! You haven’t seen anything!”
Bernadette: “Yes, I did see something.”
Jacomet: “Well what did you see?”
Bernadette: “Something white.”
Jacomet: “Something or someone?”
Bernadette: “Aquerò has the form of a young lady.”
All of this conversation was in the local patois, the only language Bernadette knew, though she did know one or two prayers in French. A large and noisy crowd which had gathered outside during the questioning pushed the poor confused François forward to claim his daughter from the Police Commissioner. Jacomet used the situation to his advantage and persuaded François to forbid his daughter from visiting the grotto again. (François was not comfortable among such officials; he had had an unpleasant encounter with the police the previous year when he had been arrested and charged with stealing a discarded wooden beam.)
Jacomet later admitted that he was convinced that the girl was genuine. The next day, Monday 20th February, Bernadette obeyed her parents and went to school but by the afternoon she could stand it no longer and said to her parents: “I must disobey you or Aquerò.” She rushed to the grotto but to her great disappointment and to the delight of the two policemen who had followed her, the lady did not come to her. That evening she sought the advice of Abbé Pomain, the assistant priest who reminded her that only M. Dutour, the public prosecutor, had the authority to impose a ban and since he had no objections, Bernadette was free to go to the grotto.
The following day, Tuesday 23rd February, Bernadette made her way to the grotto very early in the morning to find a large crowd already waiting. To Bernadette’s great joy, the lady came to her and the apparition lasted an hour. Three secrets were given to her by Our Lady – secrets she never revealed. Estrade was present during this apparition and became totally convinced that she: “. . . has a supernatural thing in front of her.” His comment gave some credibility to the apparitions.
Penitence, penitence, penitence
Wednesday 24th February was the day of the eighth apparition. About three hundred people were present. After the rosary, Bernadette lay face down on the ground and kissed it. Much to the distress of her Aunt Lucille who was with her, Bernadette repeated this several times before turning to the astonished crowd and said:
“Penitence, penitence, penitence”, words spoken to her by the Lady. Bernadette told her Aunt that the Lady had asked her to pray to God for the conversion of sinners.
The miraculous source
The apparition of Thursday 25th February was a most significant one. It was on this day that Bernadette unearthed the spring at the back of the cave. She behaved in a similar fashion to the previous day when she had kissed the ground several times, as an act of penitence for sinners. The crowd then noticed her move towards the river and then back towards the cave in a bewildering manner. Finally she scraped the muddy earth at the back of the cave and plastered her face with the muddy water and drank it. But such was the state of the water, she was able to drink only a little at the fourth attempt. Many of the crowd were disgusted at this spectacle but later that day some returned and found a hole filled with water “as big as a soup tureen” where Bernadette had dug. The more they attempted to draw water and drink it as Bernadette had done, the bigger the hole became and the clearer the water. Bernadette later explained that Aquerò told her to: “Go and drink at the spring and wash yourself in it.” Not seeing any water, Bernadette had made her way towards the river but the Lady called her back and indicated with her finger to the back of the cave. The spring now gushes forth several thousand gallons of water a day. The water is piped to a large reservoir under the basilicas and also to the taps and to the Baths. The source of the spring can be seen at the back of the grotto; it is covered with a glass plate and is illuminated.
There were further interrogations for Bernadette that evening; this time from the Imperial Prosecutor, Dutour. Bernadette and her mother were made to stand for over two hours. When eventually they were offered chairs, Bernadette, offended by the prosecutor’s manner, declined saying: “I would soil it!” The prosecutor failed to intimidate Bernadette and again she remained true to her account of the happenings at Massabielle.
The following day, Bernadette went as usual to the grotto but there was no apparition. Despite this disappointment, Bernadette, faithful to her promise, returned the next day, Saturday 27th February for the tenth apparition. The crowds had grown daily and it is estimated that over a thousand people were present for the eleventh apparition on Sunday 28th February. Many were moved to copy Bernadette and kissed the ground as she did. Many also carried andles and left them to burn in the grotto. Yet more interrogations had to be faced by Bernadette; this time by a visiting magistrate, Judge Clement Ribes. He, too, like others before him failed to move Bernadette from her simple account of what she was experiencing.
On Monday 1st March, Bernadette used a friend’s rosary at the grotto but the Vision asked Bernadette to show her own rosary and use it. A visiting priest unaware of the clerical ban imposed by the gruff Abbé Peyramale, was deeply moved by Bernadette’s ecstasy and also by the silence and prayerful attitude of the crowd of well over a thousand.
It was on this day that the first of seven cures proclaimed by Monseigneur Laurence to be the “work of God” occurred. Catherine Latapie-Chouat of Loubajac, about four miles from Lourdes, made the journey to the grotto with her two youngest children. Eighteen months previously she had had an accident which left her right arm paralysed, a considerable handicap for someone whose livelihood depended upon work such as spinning and knitting. After the Apparition had appeared to Bernadette, Catherine went to the back of the cave and plunged her arm into the pool of water discovered by Bernadette the week before. Quite suddenly her hand became supple again, but any thoughts of giving thanks were put aside for equally suddenly she started with labour pains; she was nine months pregnant. She rushed home, four miles away, and gave birth to a boy within minutes of returning home! Madame Latapie-Chouat was thirty nine years old at the time of her cure. Monsignor Laurence issued a mandate on l8th January 1862 declaring this and six other cures, which occurred in 1858, to be the work of God.
“Build a chapel ... Come in procession”
The next day, Tuesday 2nd March, Bernadette received two clear messages from the lady: “Go and tell the priests to build a chapel” and “People are to come here in procession.” Bernadette accompanied by aunt Basile, hurried to see her parish priest, Abbé Peyramale, a stern looking man. Behind his gruff manner was a lovable man who genuinely cared for his parishioners, but most were terrified of him. He was not in the best of moods when Bernadette told him the lady wanted him to arrange processions to the grotto. (She had had a similar rough reception from him the previous week when he had ridiculed her for antics at the grotto.) She left in tears only to return later that evening for in her anxiety she had forgotten to give him the message about the chapel! Unaccustomed to strangers telling him what to do, Abbé Peyramale commanded Bernadette to ask the lady for her name.
There was a crowd of three to four thousand when Bernadette went to the grotto on the following day, Wednesday 3rd March, but there was no apparition. She returned later in the day and Our Lady appeared to her for a short time. Our Lady had not appeared earlier because some of the crowd had spent the night at the grotto and had behaved in an unworthy manner. Bernadette saw her parish priest again that evening saying: “The Lady still wants the chapel”, and added that she had simply smiled when asked her name. Abbé Peyramale stepped up his attack; he suggested Bernadette might ask the Lady for a sign - perhaps she could make the rosebush at the grotto to flower. Then he would build her chapel!
The last day of the fortnight
Thursday 15th March was the fifteenth day and many expected something special. Perhaps the lady would reveal her identity; perhaps there would be a special sign for all to see. The whole town was in a state of excitement. Officials made elaborate plans; soldiers and police had been put on duty to control the expected large crowd; the grotto had been examined the night before in case of “prepared false miracles”.
The only “miracle” they found was a large crowd praying through the night. Estimates have varied between eight and twenty thousand people present for this the last apparition of the fortnight. Bernadette arrived with her cousin, Jeanne Védère, shortly after seven in the morning. She was guarded by two soldiers with swords but seemed oblivious to the drama around her. Silence fell among the crowd as Bernadette recited her rosary and moved about the grotto on her knees in now familiar fashion. The changing expressions on her face were the only visible sign to the onlookers of the apparition before her. The apparition lasted about an hour but without incident or any signs expected by the large crowd. The rest of the day was traumatic for Bernadette; people flocked to Le Cachot; many prayed in the street on their knees; still more pestered her and even invaded her humble home, some seeking souvenirs for themselves, others wanting to touch her or leave her gifts or money. She rejected all of them angrily.
Both Bernadette and Abbé Peyramale were disappointed Aquerò had not revealed her identity, but “still wants the chapel.”
Crowds gather . . . and pray
It was three weeks before Bernadette returned to the grotto. The crowds continued to visit the grotto with great devotion; they carried candles and flowers to the grotto and prayed there. The local authorities, whilst concerned at the size of the crowds and talk of cures at the spring, had at the same time to admit that there was no disturbance. Bernadette had become the centre of attention; something she vigorously resisted. Even the police praised her sincerity. She was examined by three doctors. All found her normal other than her asthma. The clergy remained aloof.
The lady’s name
Aquerò’s name was revealed to Bernadette on Thursday 25th March, the feast of the Annunciation. Bernadette awoke at 4 am on this day with a compelling desire to go to the grotto. Her parents allowed her to go at 5 o’clock. On arriving at the grotto, Bernadette found the lady waiting for her. She was overjoyed and went into ecstasy. After the rosary, Bernadette asked Aquerò to tell her who she was. The lady smiled. Bernadette, courteously, asked again and again. At the fourth request Aquerò became more serious, stretched out her arms at her side and then joining them at her breast raised her eyes to the sky and said: “Que soy era Immaculada Councepciou. (I am the Immaculate Conception).”
Bernadette, not understanding the words, rushed back to the presbytery, repeating the words over and over lest she forget them. Father Peyramale was completely taken aback by the girl’s statement and said she must be mistaken, yet he knew that Bernadette, illiterate as she was, could not have made this up. Furthermore, the phrase was in patois, the local dialect, as all of the messages had been. Quite overcome, he quietly dismissed her. Left alone, he thought to himself: “So it is the Blessed Virgin.”
Abbé Peyramale became a great friend and support to Bernadette. The rectory where she visited him is now a library. It is not far from the main Post Office. He is buried in the crypt of the new parish church of Sacré Coeur in Rue de l’Eglise. Bernadette was to receive two more apparitions. The seventeenth occurred on Wednesday 7th April. While in ecstasy on this occasion, the flame of a candle she was holding licked through her cupped hands for several minutes but without causing injury or pain. Bernadette seemed totally unaware of what was happening.
Immediately after the ecstasy, Doctor Dozous, who had witnessed the incident, examined her and found not the slightest trace of burns. It was shortly after this apparition that the public authorities barricaded the grotto and tried to deny access. The grotto had become an oratory, and, as such, required the authorisation of both civil and church powers to remain open. The boards were torn down by the crowds only to be re-erected by the authorities. This happened several times. The Prefect at Tarbes, Baron Massy, tried to discredit the events and attempted to commit Bernadette to a mental home. It was Abbé Peyramale himself who defended her but the grotto remained closed. It was also during this time that Bernadette was subjected to interrogation and medical examination from countless officials. Through it all she remained dignified and true to her simple account of what had happened at Massabielle.
Bernadette’s First Holy Communion
Bernadette made her First Holy Communion on Thursday 3rd June, the feast of Corpus Christi, at the Convent of Sisters of Charity. On being asked what made her happier, her First Holy Communion or the Apparitions, she replied: “The two things go together but they cannot be compared. I was very happy with both.”
The Final Apparition
At about seven o’clock in the evening on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Bernadette saw Our Lady for the last time at the grotto. The crowds were vast and the grotto itself was still barricaded and could not be approached. Undeterred, Bernadette, accompanied by her aunt Lucille, joined the crowds on the meadow, beyond the far bank of the Gave. She made herself as inconspicuous as she could, even wearing a borrowed cloak. Bernadette later remarked that it was as though she was in her beloved grotto itself. She saw nothing of the crowds but only Our Lady close to her and more beautiful than she had ever seen her.
The Commission of Enquiry
Through all of the excitement at Massabielle the clergy had remained distant from the events. They had taken their usual cautious and neutral stance. On 28th July, Monseigneur Laurence, the Bishop of Tarbes, set up a Commission to make a complete and thorough investigation into the events at Massabielle. The task took three years. The Bishop announced the findings of the Commission on 18th January 1862 with the words: “It is our judgement that Mary Immaculate, Mother of God, did really appear to Bernadette Soubirous on 11th February 1858, and on subsequent days, eighteen times in all, in the Grotto of Massabielle, close to the town of Lourdes.”
Throughout her short life, Bernadette was the subject of either adulation or curiosity. She was pestered and harassed, often made to go over repeatedly in minute detail what she had experienced. Abbé Peyramale came to her rescue in July 1860, when her failing health caused some anxiety. He arranged for Bernadette to move to the hospice run by the Sisters of Charity in Lourdes and there she remained in the relative calm of the convent school for six years until she left Lourdes for the Convent of St Gildard, Nevers.
Her time at the school gave her time to think; her education improved too through the regularity of the lessons though she often commented on her ignorance. In time it became clear to Bernadette and others that she wanted to enter the convent and what better than the order she knew and loved? But she considered herself unworthy. She was poor and had no dowry to offer which was a practice at the time.
She felt she had little to offer saying: “I know nothing. I am good for nothing, useless.” Most of all she was concerned about her health and was in fact often ill. Nevertheless she was accepted to join the community of the Sisters of Charity in 1864. Her health delayed her departure for the mother house in Nevers for two years.
Before leaving Lourdes, Bernadette saw the “Chapel” requested by Our Lady. She was present for the inauguration of The Crypt on 21st May 1866, hidden among the Children of Mary. She must have felt great joy that Our Lady’s request had been answered.
She left Lourdes on 4th July 1866 for Nevers but not before she had said goodbye to her parents and her beloved Grotto. She was to say: “The Grotto was my heaven; you will find me there at the foot of the rock.” It was not an easy decision for Bernadette. To leave her family and the hills of Lourdes for a town so far away must have been an immense sacrifice, but one she bore with characteristic dignity and humility.
At Nevers she had to contend with a constant stream of visitors but only referred to the apparitions when asked. Illness was a constant companion. Within three months of arrival in Nevers she received the “Last Sacraments” on what at the time was considered her death bed. It was on this same occasion she took her vows of simple profession. These were repeated publicly in October 1867 and she became Assistant Community Infirmarian in Nevers. As Sister Marie-Bernarde, Bernadette tried to live a life of obscurity and devotion to her tasks as a nun. She continued her work in the Infirmary until 1873 and then became Sacristan. But towards the end of 1874, she became too ill for active duties. She had chronic asthma, constant chest pains, abscesses, a tumour on the knee and finally bone decay. Sister Marie- Bernarde died on 16th April 1879, aged 35.
Thirty years later her body was exhumed in the cause of her beatification and was found to be in a state of perfect preservation. There was no decay. After re-burial, her body was exhumed twice more, in 1913 and finally in 1925, forty six years after her death. After this third examination, her body was placed in a glass casket and now rests in the chapel of the convent of St Gildard, Nevers.
Pope Pius XI proclaimed Bernadette a Saint on 8th December 1933, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.