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Her parents were very poor and she was the first of nine children. Unfortunately, she lived the rest of her life in poor health.On Thursday, February 11, 1858, fourteen-year-old Bernadette was sent with her younger sister and a friend to gather firewood, when a very beautiful lady appeared to her above a rose bush in a grotto called Massabielle (Tuta de Massavielha).Since Bernadette first caused the spring to produce clean water, 69 cures have been verified by the Lourdes Medical Bureau, and after what the Church claimed were "extremely rigorous scientific and medical examinations," no one was able to explain what caused the cures.The Lourdes Commission that initially examined Bernadette, ran an analysis on the water but were only able to determine it contained a high mineral content.Bernadette asked again, three more times, and finally the woman said, "I am the Immaculate Conception." Though many townspeople believed she had indeed been seeing the Holy Virgin, Bernadette's story created a division in her town.
Though she considered joining the Carmelites, her health was too fragile.
Three days later, Bernadette, her sister Marie, and other girls returned to the grotto, where Bernadette immediately knelt, saying she could see "aquero" again.
She fell into a trance and one girl threw holy water at the niche and another threw a rock that shattered on the ground. On February 18, Bernadette said "the vision" asked her to return to the grotto each day for a fortnight.
Some believed Bernadette's visions meant she needed to pray for penance.
Church authorities and the French government rigorously interviewed the girl, and by 1862 they confirmed she spoke truth.
With each visit, Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary and the period of daily visions became known as "la Quinzaine sacrée," meaning "holy fortnight." When Bernadette began to visit the grotto, her parents were embarrassed and attempted to stop her, but were unable to do so.