I'm Sue Kouma Johnson, and I'm here to talk with you today about a favorite saint of mine. I'm a Catholic artist in Lincoln, Nebraska, and I love painting the saints and Jesus and Mary. But today's saint is Saint Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes. Her feast day is April 16th, which is today. She is near and dear to my heart. Every since my mom was sick in the hospital, I have had a devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes because we prayed to her so much for consolation for my mom and also for healing, but I never had a devotion to Saint Bernadette until a few years ago, because I always thought of her as just the seer, the messenger. I didn't see her in and of herself as someone that powerful as a saint.
But, after reading this book a few years ago I found at a garage sale, a big, huge book with everything about Saint Bernadette in it, all kinds of documents and photos – which I love pictures in books – I just have come to really appreciate her as a great example of faith, patience, and humility, and love. Saint Bernadette is someone that everybody can relate to, whether you're poor, or sick. She suffered all her life from asthma. Or, if you're uneducated, she never had much formal education until after the apparitions, she got some education from the nuns. But she's just someone you can relate to. She's suffered a lot in her life, and anyway, she just put up with everything with good humor. That's another thing about Saint Bernadette is she had a wonderful sense of humor.
One time when she was sitting in a classroom with all these girls that were a lot younger than her at the convent where she wanted to enter, she was looking out the window and she saw some ripe strawberries right outside the window, so she just slipped off her shoe and tossed it out the window, and then she asked the teacher if she could please be excused, because she dropped her shoe out the window, so she went out and got some strawberries for everybody.
Another funny thing about her was that she, when she was a nun, she almost died on like four or five different occasions, and one of the times that she almost died, they let her take her final vows, even though she was just a novice. That was kind of a practice that is still done today where if you're studying to be a priest or to be religious and you're at the brink of death, they will let you complete your commitment to God by making your final vows. They gave her the black veil, and the rule book, and all accoutrement that goes with being a finally professed nun.
Then, she once again miraculously recovered. She told the sisters, "I'm not giving these back, these are mine. This veil is mine, this book's mine." Because she wanted so much to be a fully professed nun, and she entered the convent after a few years, and ended up dying, suffering a lot from some sort of cancer in her leg, and also tuberculosis, which she just hid the leg thing from the nuns for a long time, and suffered with it. Just very patiently. I'm assuming everybody knows the story of Our Lady of Lourdes, maybe I'll have to make a video about that, but this is mainly focusing on Bernadette and humility, faith, trust, and love.
I did a drawing of her a few years ago from a black and white photograph, and it was in pencil, but people have asked me to do one in color, so I have just colorized the image, and it is available for purchase in my shop, www.CatholicArtandJewelry.com, and also in my Etsy shop, Tree of Heaven at Etsy.com. (www.etsy.com/shop/TreeOfHeaven)Then I have these little medals, too, which can be worn on a bracelet, the smaller one on a bracelet, and the bigger ones on a chain or a rope around the neck. Come and visit me at one of my shops, and thank you very much. Happy Feast of Saint Bernadette.