The Miraculous Story of St. Bernadette of Lourdes

St. Bernadette's visions in Lourdes, France, show how God “makes winds His messengers."

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Posted in , Feb 2, 2016

Statue of St. Bernadette at the grotto near Lourdes and the miracle story of the winds.

One of my favorite departments in Angels on Earth magazine is called “He Makes Winds His Messengers,” titled for Psalm 104:4. In every column, the wind plays an angelic role. While we were looking for a “Winds” to run in our next issue, I remembered a miraculous story the nuns used to tell us in grade school. It involved a young girl, in the vicinity of Lourdes, France, in February 1858.

Fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous went out to gather firewood with her sister and a friend. While the others kept to their task, Bernadette hung back to wade in the water near the Grotto of Massabielle, and kicked off her shoes. She bent to pull off one stocking, but was interrupted by the sound of a gust of wind. She turned her head toward the meadow, where she thought the sound had come from. But the trees were still. Not a leaf stirred. The air was quiet and calm. She went back to removing her stockings. The cool water waited!

Again a whoosh stopped her, the gust kicking up suddenly, as loud as the first. This time she looked toward the grotto. Did she see a slight sway in the branches of that honeysuckle bush? To investigate, she moved closer to the opening of the cave. It was aglow. In the heavenly light, Bernadette saw the first of her visions of the veiled Lady in white, a sash of blue, yellow roses at her bare feet, a rosary weaved through her fingers.

Bernadette’s companions didn’t see anything. Her parents, and later the police, forbade her to return to the spot. Bernadette didn’t heed their warning, and continued her visits.

At this point of the story, the nun telling it usually got a twinkle in her eye. She knew the class would never forget a 14-year-old who knew more than her parents and the other adults in charge. History was on her side. Today, Lourdes is a major pilgrimage site, and it all started with the winds.

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