A few years ago I read The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel, and it gave me a new appreciation for this saint. Up until then, I knew that Bernadette was a girl who had Our Lady appear to her at Lourdes. And that was about all I really knew. But this novel made Bernadette very real to me.
Bernadette is honored now as a saint, but when she was living she was not considered very bright - and maybe even a little bit crazy. She was mocked and ridiculed. But she persevered in following Our Lady's instructions and ultimately was honored for it.
Sometimes I find Saints very hard to relate to: stories from the middle ages always have a feel of "Once upon a time" to them and the super good, who founded religious orders, seem far removed from my life experiences.
But Bernadette is a Saint that lived within a more modern time frame. Her visions occurred just a few years before the start of the American Civil War. That makes it a little easier to envision what her life was like. Plus, she was just a normal school girl, trying to make it through her day, when this extraordinary thing happened to her.
Today is the feast day of St. Bernadette Soubirous. May it remind us that we don't have to be extraordinary people to lead extraordinary lives.