July 26, 2017: My Saint, My Friend

~by Susi Pittman


As a child of twelve, living in what was at the time a Protestant home; I watched an old movie titled, The Song of Bernadette, starring a very talented actress, Jennifer Jones. It left me in awe!

You see, four years earlier, my French-Canadian grandmother had taken me to my first Catholic Mass. It was there that I first learned about Mary, this beautiful woman whose image I saw for the first time as a statue in front of us at Church. At eight years of age, I couldn’t keep my eyes off her and I had plenty of questions for my grandmother after Mass.

I had wanted to become a Catholic after that experience, but, my father said “no!” Our family wasn’t really going to church and by his tone I certainly wasn’t going to be going the Catholic Church. The desire for the Catholic faith never left me and it was when I saw the movie on Bernadette’s life that I felt truly connected to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Bernadette was young, not the brightest star in the sky,(a lot like me) but, in her simplicity, she had great faith in her God. I saw myself in that…and the fact that Mary would come to a young girl took me into thoughts of fancy about being that good, that Mary would come to me. I had a true child’s heart but, of course we never received a visit.

  • In Lourdes, France, on February 11, 1858, Mary the Mother of Jesus appeared to a girl by the name of Bernadette Soubrious. Through the course of three weeks, Mary asked Bernadette to dig the ground with her hands and Mary would bring healing waters forth for all the world. Mary also asked Bernadette to go to the priests and ask for a Church to be built on the site. It was to Bernadette that she said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
  • All of this was accomplished.
  • Lourdes through the ages continues to be a place of pilgrimage for all peoples, many of whom seek the healing of the waters. Today there are over 5-million visitors a year and through the years healings of all manner, many of them verified giving to us reason to pause at the miracle God wrought at Lourdes for the sake of humankind.
  • To this day, Saint Bernadette’s body remains incorruptible, with no signs of decay, as if she is merely sleeping. http://www.catholicpilgrims.com/lourdes/ba_bernadette_intro.htm

The day came at age sixteen when my father finally gave into years of my requesting to become a Catholic. He allowed me to go for private instruction at the local Catholic parish, St. Rose of Lima. The following spring I was received into the Church and my Confirmation name, one that had burned in my heart for so long, was finally a reality…BERNADETTE.

To this day, I treasure that name and the saint behind it. St. Bernadette and Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, have blessed not only my life, but the life of my entire family. Following the year of my Confirmation, my entire family converted to the Catholic faith. Over a period of fourteen years of marriage, my husband too converted to Catholicism.

We were all given to Mary at the foot of the Cross by Jesus, as He was dying. John the Beloved, stood by her side for all of us and Jesus said, “Woman behold thy son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother.”

Saint Bernadette, my saint and my friend, you have given me example in the ebb and flow of my spiritual life. I call you my sister in hopes that someday we may be joined in heavenly love for the first time in the presence of Mary Most Holy who is indeed Mother of us all.

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Susi Pittman is founder of CatholicStewardsofCreation.com and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; a member of the St. John’ s Catholic Writers Guild;
a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the National Wildlife Federation, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.

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