True Sleeping Beauty
Jan 26, 2015 / Written by: Andrea F. Phillips
Feast April 16
Do we lie to our children when we tell them fairytales, parents may ask?
No fairytale matches what in reality God can do and will do for those who trust His omnipotence. Thus, fairytales are a way of “wetting the appetite” of children for the marvelous, wonder-filled world of God’s miracles, and, finally Heaven.
In my Catholic home, as I graduated from fairytales to the lives of the saints, I was pleasantly surprised to find amazing parallels between their stories with the marvelous tales of my childhood.
Actually, my fairytales paled compared to the riveting miracles, God Our Lord, and Mother Mary, true “Fairy God’s Mother”, had worked in these saints’ lives. And then, one day, I was awe-struck on being shown a photo of the incorrupt body of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, who saw the Blessed Mother eighteen times in Lourdes, France in 1858.
The real “Sleeping Beauty”!
The incorruption of the bodies of some saints is a phenomenon, which science cannot explain. Far from “mummified”, these bodies are preserved without exterior aid, some having escaped not only the ravages of natural decomposition, but also the added putrefying effect of humidity, and even the corrosiveness of lime.
The first saint in Catholic history to have escaped normal decay is the Roman virgin Saint Cecilia, martyred in 177 A.D, her integral body discovered in 1599. Throughout history, about 250 such bodies were exhumed and found to be in different stages of preservation.
Bernadette of Lourdes, who died at age 36, was first exhumed thirty years after her death. Before the local bishop and other authorities, the body was recognized to be amazingly intact with even internal organs preserved. Because of some discoloration of the skin, a light wax cover was placed over her face and hands for eventual public veneration.
Indeed, in life young Bernadette had been incorruptible. Perhaps, the young visionary’s outstanding qualities were utter simplicity, and piercing honesty. After seeing the Blessed Virgin, and initiating the miraculous fountain of Lourdes, she remained true to herself, despite the center of feverish attention.
Unmoved by the acclaiming public that promptly conferred saintly stardom on her, young Bernadette answered the grueling clerical investigators with utter transparency, disconcerting directness and uncanny wisdom for one so young and only recently lettered.
When entering the the convent of the Sisters of Nevers, she thought it only logical that she be assigned to menial tasks.
She lived in fidelity to her vows, pure, simple, true, and a lover of her daily cross, her one desire to be with her “lady” who had appeared to her and sealed her heart for heaven.
She now reposes, enshrined in a crystal urn in the chapel of St. Gildard, Nevers, France, a true Sleeping Beauty, stung by the curse of death, but peacefully awaiting the return of her divine Bridegroom.
So, no – fairy-tales don’t lie!
The Marvels of Saint Bernadette
This is taken from an informal lecture Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on April 15, 1966. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous
Bernadette Soubirous, baptized Marie Bernarde, was the oldest of a family of six children and was born and lived in Lourdes, a small town in the French Pyrennes.