Thursday, February 11, 2010


Her incorrupt body lies in the Convent of Saint Gildarde in Nevers

"As soon as she was dead," stated Sister Bernard Dalias, "Bernadette's face became young and peaceful again, with a look of purity and blessedness." The infirmarians clothed her in her religious habit. "We had no difficulty in doing so," observed Sister de Vigouroux, "for her body was supple even though she had been dead for two hours."

This photo was taken when she died in 1879

Bernadette died on 16th April 1879. Her body was buried in the small chapel dedicated to St.Joseph, within the convent grounds. In September of 1909, Bernadettes body was exhumed, as part of the process leading to her eventual canonisation. The hollowed-out tomb was extremely humid - her habit was very damp, the rosary held in her hands was rusted and her crucifix had turned green. Yet despite this, the body itself was perfectly preserved. Two further exhumations (in April 1919 and April 1925) were carried out. At the third , the skin was found to have discoloured slightly in places, due probably to exposure to the air following the forty-six years of burial. Because of this, the firm of Pierre Imans in Paris made light wax coverings for the face and hands. By June of 1925, the Cateland workshop in Lyon had finished the gilt and crystal reliquary which was to be the final resting place of the saint; the light wax masks were placed on the face and hands and the body was placed in the shrine. The same month, Pope Pius XI beatified Bernadette - she could now be called "Blessed" and her remains could be publicly venerated.

In August, the shrine was ceremonially placed in the main chapel of the convent, and the long line of pilgrims began to visit the convent. In 1933 Bernadette was declared a Saint - appropriately, this took place on December 8th, feast of the Immaculate Conception.

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