Today the Church celebrates the apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes.1 The visionary, Bernadette Soubirous, was fourteen at the time of the apparitions in 1858. On July 7th, 1866, she arrived at Nevers, France,to join the congregation of the Sisters of Charity. She was twenty-two at the time and was accepted as a postulant on July 29th at their mother house, St. Gildard, in Nevers. She remained at St. Gildard until her death thirteen years later in 1879.
The Church of St. Gildard was built between 1853 and 1856 on the site of a previous abbey. Five years after Bernadette’s death, a grotto was built in memory of the rock of Massabielle where the apparitions in Lourdes occurred. Bernadette often prayed before an image of Our Lady of the Waters at St. Gildard. She was often asked how the Blessed Mother looked in her apparitions and she replied this image reminded her the most of how Our Lady appeared. Bernadette said, “It is she who reminds me most of the Virgin I saw.” The statue now resides in the grotto at St. Gildard.
- Most of the information here is from an informational pamphlet at St. Gildard which was acquired during a pilgrimage in May 2005. Image is from Cypris, “Nevers saint gildard nd eaux 05.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, Feb. 8, 2012, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nevers_saint_gildard_nd_eaux_05.jpg. ↩