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The humility of Saint Bernadette

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The humility of Saint Bernadette

We all know about the amazing apparitions that made our patroness and the little town of Lourdes known to the world.  Perhaps because of that fame, it is startling to learn that (according to Butler’s,) St Bernadette was canonized ‘not for her visions but for her life of prayer, simple devotion, and straightforward obedience both to the Rule and to whatever God required her to undergo.  A more balanced and, indeed ordinary visionary would be difficult to find.

It’s no surprise that Mary chose a simple child to be the recipient of those apparitions, but they took place over a period of just six months, after which, Bernadette’s life was not – as far as we know – touched by anything out of the ordinary.  How humble Bernadette must have been not to have expected any further apparitions or looked for any special treatment from the Sisters of Notre Dame, whom she joined at the age of 22.  Indeed, St Bernadette once compared herself with a broom, saying

‘Our Lady used me.  They have put me back in my corner.  I am happy to stop there’.

Bernadette received the apparitions in humility.  She endured the ridicule and accusations of ‘making it up’ in humility.  She refused to lay her hands on the sick, and refused to accept gifts, hating the publicity that her experiences brought her.  She later had to endure the humility of being turned down when she initially sought entry to religious life.  When she later entered the convent, she lived the life of a very ordinary nun, simply doing God’s will and not seeking any recognition for herself.

Her humble constancy is most admirable.  Let’s ask her for her prayers as we approach her feast, that we may immitate her humility at all times, returning thanks to God for all that is good within us.

St Bernadette of Lourdes, pray for us!

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