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St. Bernadette

In a series of 18 apparitions, in Lourdes, France, Our Lady revealed to Bernadette Soubirous her name, “I am the Immaculate Conception” along with the message, “Penance, penance, penance.”  A miraculous spring sprung out of the ground, where many were healed, and many pilgrims were drawn to the site.

After the apparitions ceased, St. Bernadette escaped the unwanted attention of the public and joined a convent in Nevers, France, where she became Sister Marie Bernard.

St. Bernadette had no schooling. She was a simple soul, admired for her spirit of humility and sacrifice. Once a nun asked her if she had temptations of pride because she was favored by the Blessed Mother. “How can I?” she answered quickly. “The Blessed Virgin chose me only because I was the most ignorant.”

St. Bernadette was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bone in her right knee, she suffered greatly and was unable to take part in convent life. She embraced suffering and found great joy in uniting her suffering with the cross. 

St. Bernadette was quoted as saying, “I’m happier with my crucifix on my bed than a queen on her throne.” 

“Pray for sinners,” Our Lady had said to her. 

“My weapons,” she wrote to the Pope, “are prayer and sacrifice.” She remained faithful to this through the end, asking Our Lady, whom she called “my mother” to unite her heart with the heart of Jesus. 

This humble soul, also one of the most beautifully incorrupt saints, gave the following advice on praying the Rosary. 

“In the evening, when you go to sleep, hold your [rosary] beads and doze off reciting them. Do like those babies who go to sleep mumbling, ‘Mama, Mama.’”

st bernadette Soubirous

My name is Michelle Bernadette. My mama named me after this beautiful saint, and until recently, I didn’t know anything about her life after the apparitions at Lourdes.

Our family recently watched “The Passion of Bernadette” on our FORMED membership. I was blown away by her simple love for the Lord and completely inspired by her quote where she talks about dozing off to sleep mumbling “Mama, Mama” – while praying the words of the Rosary.

The Blessed Mother is indeed Our Mama. And when life gets hard, St Bernadette gives us that reminder that she’s there for us, no matter what. And when we lie our heads on our pillows at night and are drifting off to sleep, we can reach for our rosary and call out for Our Mama. 


St. Bernadette
About Author

Michelle Hillaert brings more than 25 years of experience in roles relating to technology and communications to GIVEN. With an undergraduate degree in Communication Arts from Franciscan University of Steubenville, her portfolio includes emergency management, web, application and graphic design, marketing and social media management, podcasting, and online consulting. In her previous employment, Michelle played a major role in the development and improvement of internal systems as well as the development and expansion of the Quality Management System. She also managed processes and communication with stakeholders in major application builds of state-run programs. In addition to this work, Michelle has dedicated herself to helping women live their full potential as a doula, life and fitness coach, motivational speaker and author. Having four daughters, nine sisters, and having journeyed with many women over the years, Michelle has experienced first-hand how as women, we often hesitate to respond with our gifts because we don’t recognize that we are uniquely gifted and that the world – especially those we encounter on a daily basis – needs us to share these gifts. In light of this, she has a passion and proven capacity for flourishing young women in the Church through mentoring and leadership development. Michelle has found that transformation often happens in those quiet moments of prayer and reading the works of the saints, such as the “Dialogue” by St. Catherine of Siena and makes daily reading and continual growth an essential part of her day. Outside of work, Michelle has been married for over 23 years to her husband, Trent. They reside in Front Royal, Virginia and together have six children, 2 in college and four still at home, along with three dogs, a cat and 27 chickens. She is a soccer mom and singer who loves leading praise and worship. “It’s only when we truly know how unspeakably much we are loved by our Father and how He is constantly pursuing us – even in those moments when we’re running in the opposite direction – that we can come to understand that our identity lies in His love. With this knowledge, we are able to step out in confidence and as inspired by St. Pope John Paul II, live fearlessly.”

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