The saint of the month for February is St. Bernadette. St. Bernadette was born in Lourdes, France on January 7, 1844. Her parents were very poor and she was the first of nine children. As a toddler, Bernadette suffered terribly from asthma and for the rest of her life she lived with poor health. On Thursday, February 11, 1858, fourteen-year-old Bernadette was sent with her younger sister and a friend to gather firewood, when a very beautiful lady appeared to her above a rose bush in a grotto called Massabielle. The woman was in blue and white and smiled at Bernadette before making the sign of the cross with a rosary. Bernadette fell to her knees, took out her own rosary and began to pray. Though her sister and friend claimed they were unable to see her, Bernadette knew what she saw was real. On February 18, Bernadette said “the vision” asked her to return to the grotto each day. With each visit, Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary. When Bernadette began to visit the grotto, her parents were embarrassed and attempted to stop her, but were unable to do so. On February 25, Bernadette claimed to have had a life-changing vision. The vision had told her “to drink of the water of the spring, to wash in it and to eat the herb that grew there” as an act of penance. The next day, the grotto’s muddy waters had been cleared and fresh clear water flowed. During her sixteenth vision, which Bernadette claims to have experienced for over an hour, was on March 25. Bernadette claimed she had asked the woman her name, but her question was only met with a smile. Bernadette asked again, three more times, and finally the woman said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Bernadette asked the local priest to build a chapel at the site of her visions and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is now one of the major Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. Many other chapels and churches has been built around it., Bernadette decided she did not like the attention, so she went to the hospice school run by the Sisters of Charity of Nevers, where she was taught to read and write. On July 29, 1866, Bernadette joined the Sisters of Charity at their motherhouse at Nevers. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bone in her right knee and was unable to take part in convent life. She died in the Holy Cross Infirmary of the Convent of Saint-Gildard at the age of 35 on April 16, 1879, while praying the holy rosary. St. Bernadette is the patron saint of illness, people ridiculed for their poverty, shepherds, and Lourdes, France. Her feast day is February 18th.