Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Bernadette Soubirous (1844–1879)

Saint Bernadette Soubirous (1844–1879)

Patron saint of orphans and against bodily ills

Feast day: April 16

Most people recognize Saint Bernadette for the eighteen apparitions of Mary she witnessed as an adolescent in Lourdes, France, in 1858. The visions are an important part of her faith story, but she was not canonized for seeing apparitions alone. Bernadette is recognized as a saint because of her prayerfulness and faithfulness to God’s will.

Bernadette led a humble life, which came under scrutiny after word spread of her visions. Undeterred by others’ skepticism and lack of faith, Bernadette followed the instructions Mary gave her to pray for sinners and invite people to the site of the apparitions. Her discovery of a hidden spring of healing water has made the grotto where the apparitions occurred a popular pilgrimage site.

In her humility, Bernadette avoided any attention, choosing instead to devote her life to further prayer and service, becoming a nun with the Sisters of Notre Dame of Nevers. From her youth and throughout her life, Saint Bernadette was a model of faithful discipleship. (From Exploring Saints and Feast Days with Young Adolescents [Saint Mary’s Press]) 

(Image in public domain)