Saint Bernadette


Years of temporary fixes had left this statue of Saint Bernadette in poor condition.

The parish for whom we restored these figures I can’t recall, but I do remember Tina who drove all the way from a wind-swept part of North East England to bring them.
They came with many layers of paint, and some moss attached. Some smug slugs had  found a home in the damaged areas of broken resin.
The first phase of restoration involved the removal of said molluscs,  and then the paint…

Bernadette  lived in a one room former jail dungeon which she shared with her family.She shunned worldly possessions throughout her short life.

The blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the 14 year old Bernadette on 11th February 1858.
She described the experience as follows:

” I heard a noise like a gust of wind …I raised my eyes toward the grotto and saw a lady dressed in white. She was wearing a white dress, a white veil, a blue girdle, and a yellow rose on each foot…”

On asking of the “beautiful lady” her name, the apparition confirmed that she was the Immaculate Conception.

Bernadette was a lowly shepherdess, and too uneducated to understand such words as “Immaculate Conception”. The apparitions served to confirm the dogma which was promulgated on December 8th 1854 by Pope Pious IX. four years before the Apparitions.

Sister Bernadette was ministered the sacrament of Extreme unction three times during her life, for having had been close to death through asthma. In September 1878 she pronounced her final vows. Her time here on earth was running out; Bone cancer of the knee had been already diagnosed and seven months later, at three p.m. on April 16th, sister Bernard at the age of 35 years departed this life.

Her body remains in corrupt to this day, at the convent of Saint Gildard at Nevers one hundred and fifty years after her death.
It is said that a thin coating of wax was applied to the body at its last exhumation, as the nuns who tended the body washed it, resulting in an accidental staining of her complexion.

The mystery remains to the worldly how a body may remain intact one hundred and fourty years after death.

Whilst Buddhist monks prepare their bodies in life (for preservation after death) by eating resinous leaves; Egyptian deserts and the icy winds of the Americas preserve bodies by desiccation.
The the acid waters of English peat bogs have also yielded ancient tannin-saturated bodies.

Yet Saint Bernadette’s body has no such scientific or natural explanation; it remains a witness to the power of the resurrected Christ, pointing to the “loved one which will not see decay” and the promise that those who eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man shall have eternal life.
(Bernadette is just one of over two hundred Catholic saints whose human remains are in-corrupt.)