St. Bernadette Soubirous (7 January 1844 – 16 April 1879), also known as Bernadette of Lourdes, was the firstborn daughter of a miller from Lourdes, in the department of Hautes-Pyrénées in France, and is best known for experiencing apparitions of a “young lady” who asked for a chapel to be built at the nearby cave-grotto. These apparitions occurred between 11 February and 16 July 1858, and the woman who appeared to her identified herself as the “Immaculate Conception”. After a canonical investigation, Soubirous’s reports were eventually declared “worthy of belief” on 18 February 1862, and the Marian apparition became known as Our Lady of Lourdes. In 1866, Soubirous joined the Sisters of Charity of Nevers at their convent in Nevers where she spent the last years of her life. Her body has remained internally incorrupt. The grotto where the apparitions occurred later went on to become a major pilgrimage site and Marian shrine known as the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, attracting around five million pilgrims of all denominations each year.
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