The Virgin's Smile

From the Life of St. Bernadette

Beginning on February 11, 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared eighteen times over a period of six months to a peasant girl named Bernadette Soudirous. Following is an account of the visit of Count de Bruissard to Saint Bernadette made just before the last apparition:

"I was a Cauterets at the time when there was so much talk of the Lourdes Apparitions. I no more believed in them than in the existence of God: I was a lost sheep, and what is worse, an atheist. Having seen in the local paper that Bernadette had had an Apparition on July 16th, and that the Virgin smiled upon her, I resolved out of curiosity to go to Lourdes and catch the little one red-handed in her lies.

I went to the Soubirous' home and found Bernadette on the doorstep busy darning stockings. After long questioning about the Apparitions I said to her: 'Lastly, how did she smile, this beautiful Lady?' The little shepherdess stared at me with wonder; then after a moment's silence: 'Oh, sir, you would have to come from Heaven itself to reproduce that smile.'

'Could you not repeat it for me? I am an unbeliever and I don't believe in your Apparitions.'

The child's face clouded over. 'Then, sir, you think I am a liar.'

I felt disarmed. No, Bernadette was no liar, and I was on the point of going down on my knees to beg her pardon. Then she went on: 'As you are a sinner, I shall repeat the Blessed Virgin's smile for you.' The child got up very slowly, joined her hands and gave a heavenly smile such as I have never seen on any mortal lips. Her face lit up with a dazzling brilliance of light. She smiled again with her eyes raised heavenwards. I remained motionless before her, convinced that I had seen the Virgin's smile on the face of the visionary.

Since then I have treasured this heavenly memory in the depths of my soul. I have lost my wife and my two daughters. Yet it seems to me that I am not alone in this world. I live with the Virgin's smile."