(January 6, 1844 – April 16, 1879)
Marie Bernarde “Bernadette” Soubirous was the firstborn daughter of a miller from Lourdes, France. A poor, sickly girl considered slow-witted, Bernadette was fourteen years old when the Blessed Virgin Mary first appeared to her in a cave above the banks of the Gave River on February 11, 1858. Over the course of eighteen appearances, Mary identified herself as “the Immaculate Conception,” a term that had to be explained to Bernadette later. At the direction of the Virgin Mary, Bernadette dug a hole at the site of the appearances, and a spring appeared. The site of the appearances have been visited by millions of pilgrims ever since.