Her name was Marie Bernarde, but her family and friends called her Bernadette. She was born in Lourdes, France. Her family was poor and lived in a dark, airless basement. Bernadette was often sick and had trouble with her schoolwork. One day when she was fourteen, she went to gather firewood on the bank of the river. Then, in the cave beside the river, she saw a beautiful Lady dressed in blue and white. Stars surrounded her head and roses touched her feet. The Lady asked Bernadette to pray with her.
Bernadette told others what she had seen. At first no one believed her. Later, crowds of people followed her to pray with the Lady, although only Bernadette could see her. She saw the Lady eighteen times. The Lady asked Bernadette to dig a hole in the ground. A fresh cool spring began to flow. Then she asked Bernadette to build a chapel near the spring so that people could come there to wash and drink. Since then, the Lady is known as Our Lady of Lourdes.