April 2015 - St. Bernadette Soubirous and St. John Baptist de la Salle

St. Bernadette Soubirous and St. John Baptist de la Salle. Photos: CNS St. Bernadette Soubirous and St. John Baptist de la Salle. Photos: CNS

St. Bernadette Soubirous

Lourdes visionary led simple life of devotion

1844–1879
Feast day: April 16

As a child in a poor French family in the Hautes-Pyrenees town of Lourdes, Bernadette suffered both asthma and cholera. Uneducated, she had not made her first Communion by 1858, the year she experienced 18 visions of a beautiful lady calling herself the Immaculate Conception and calling for penance and pilgrimage. Bernadette was unchanged by this extraordinary experience, and in 1866 became a member of the Sisters of Charity, taking the name Maria-Bernarda. Chronically ill after 1875 with worsening asthma and tuberculosis of the bones, she died at age 35. When she was canonized in 1933, it was not for being the Lourdes visionary, but for her simple life of prayer, devotion and obedience.

St. John Baptist de la Salle

Eldest of 11 became patron saint of teachers 

1651–1719
Feast day: April 7

Founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, John Baptist was the eldest of 11 children in a noble French family. His studies in Paris were interrupted by his parents’ deaths; he returned to Reims, where he finished his schooling and was ordained in 1678. After settling into the comfortable life of a cathedral canon, he was challenged by a layman who had opened free schools for the poor in Rouen to do the same in Reims. This led to increasing involvement with poor children and the founding, growth and running of his order, which survived opposition and innovated classroom teaching and use of the vernacular. Canonized in 1900, he was declared the patron saint of teachers in 1950.   

Northwest Catholic - April 2015