|Site||Chapel of Saint Gidard at the Sisters of Charity in Nevers|
Bernadette Soubirous grew up in Victorian-era France. Being the oldest daughter in a loving but poor family, she struggled with illness throughout her life. In 1858, Bernadette had a vision of a young woman known as "Our Lady of Lourdes." This apparition appeared to her eighteen times, usually with words of encouragement. On the ninth occasion, Bernadette was asked to drink from the Spring water, although there was none at the time. Bernadette began digging with her hands in a muddy patch, with many onlookers claiming she was a fraud. However, a few days later, water began to flow from that spot and turned into a source of healing spring waters. This remains one of the greatest attractions in Lourdes, with between four and six million visitors annually.
Bernadette's body was exhumed for the first time in 1909. Her body was incorrupt and preserved from decomposition which is one of the miracles to support her canonization as a saint. They washed and re-clothed the body for another burial in a double casket. Her body was exhumed a second time in 1919, noting that the body was practically mummified. Finally, she was exhumed for a third time in 1925. Two of her ribs were sent to Rome. An imprint of her face and hands were also taken and molded to make a wax mask and wax casts to be placed on the body. The remains were then placed in a gold and crystal reliquary and she is now in the Chapel of Saint Gidard in Nevers.
Bernadette contracted tuberculosis in her right knee and, for the months preceding her death, was unable to participate in the convent life. She died at the age of 35 from the illness on April 16, 1879.
The miraculous spring waters Bernadette discovered has been linked to many different miracles. Although several of these miracles turned out to be short-term recoveries or even hoaxes, many of them were confirmed, and there are still claims to this day.
Bernadette Soubirous (2015). Retrieved October 15, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernadette_Soubirous#Exhumations
Black, A. (n.d). The Not-Quite Incorruptible St. Bernadette of Lourdes. Retrieved October 15, 2015 from http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/not-quite-incorruptible-st-bernadette-lourdes
Pettinger, T. (n.d). Biography of Bernadette Soubirous. Retrieved October 15, 2015, from http://www.biographyonline.net/spiritual/bernadette-soubirious.html