The movie, “The Song of Bernadette” gives a brief accounting of a true story of St Bernadette Soubirous, played by Jennifer Jones. Bernadette, In 1858, was blessed to have been visited, on several occasions, by our Blessed Mother of Christ, the Virgin Mary.
While gathering wood in the worst area of Lourdes, France, near the Gave River banks, Bernadette came upon a sight so profound when relaying it to her family and they to others, her life was in jeopardy. There, on the banks, she was visited by the Virgin. When reporting what she had seen, her life was in turmoil and jeopardy. Most of the issues were due to ignorance or jealousy. Others were due to community residents not wanting to accept the fact a peasant girl could be so special she could be chosen as the one to receive a visit from the Blessed Mother.
Bernadette goes through trial after trial to prove she was visited. She expressed she was instructed by the Virgin Mary to return to that same site. During the visits, she received messages, guidance and was foretold of things to come. She also received instructions. During one visit, she was instructed to dig at a designated spot. When doing so, nothing occurred immediately. However, when onlookers began to leave, a spring emerged from the spot Bernadette was digging.
Spoiler Alert: After a weary mother is told her son is not going to live, she refuses to accept the prognosis, grabs her child and runs to the spring. There, she places her unresponsive child in the water and briefly allows him to become completely submerged. Immediately the child who has never before made a sound, begins to cry. When checked by the same physician who diagnosed the prior state, he was in shock to discover the child was now healthier than most. He stated the child had been healed.
Bernadette unrelenting her vision, continued to be badgered by some in the community especially those in authority. Their desire is to have her deny her story and say she has lied. However, Bernadette never changes her story. She continues to work and live in the small community until directed to go to Nevers. There, she would be under the protective covers of the Sisters of Notre Dame. However, even under the care of the sisters, she is still envied, mistreated and even bullied. She continues to be mistreated until it is discovered she has been suffering for some time with an incurable illness that has caused unbearable pain. Yet Bernadette has never complained. The only indication of a problem is an obvious limp.
After the disease is diagnosed, the very mistress who treated her despicably now dedicates her life to serving Bernadette. Bernadette, realizing she is preparing to transcend from Earth to Heaven, sends for the priest in whom she had the most confidence. He arrives knowing why she has sent for him. She has not seen the Virgin since her childhood, yet just before the moment of death, the Virgin once again appears. Bernadette passes.
“The Song of Bernadette” was released in color in 1943; however, today, it can be seen only in black and white. The movie won 8 Oscars ranging from Best Picture to Best Writing in 1944. There were an additional 8 nominations. Still today, this movie has a loyal following and continues to attract millions.
According to Catholic documents, Saint Bernadette’s body today has remained the same as it was when she passed in 1879.
Jennifer Jones – Bernadette
Charles Bickford – Father Peyramale
Vincent Price – Prosecutor Vital Dutour