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Between February 11 and July 16 1858, a woman appeared to a humble French girl named Bernadette Soubirous.
Her encounter was well documented and happened as follows, according to an 1870 book entitled Our Lady of Lourdes.
The Apparition still remained silent, but the little girl again spoke, “O my Lady, I beg of you, will you have the goodness to tell me who you are and what is your name?”
The Lady had her hands joined but at this last entreaty of the child she disjoined them and hung her beautiful rosary upon her right arm. Then she lowered her arms, joined her hands again very fervently, and looking up to heaven pronounced these words.
“I AM THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION”
Many other miracles occurred and have continued to occur at the site of the apparition, where many people have been cured after visiting the shrine at Lourdes.
Bernadette later felt God calling her to the monastery and spent the rest of her life with the Sisters of Charity of Nevers. She died at the young age of 35 years old.
Many recognized her holiness during her life and began to pray for her intercession after her death.
This eventually led to her beatification on June 14 1925, and then her canonization on December 8, 1933 by Pope Pius XI.
The date for her canonization was deliberately chosen, as it recalled the apparitions of Our Lady and how she called herself the “Immaculate Conception.”
St. Bernadette’s feast day was fixed to April 16, which is the date of her death.