St. Bernadette Soubirous

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(Left and Top Right): Photographs of Marie-Bernarde “Bernadette” Soubirous (Bottom Right): Photo taken after her death in 1879.

Born in France in 1844, Bernadette Soubirous was brought to the attention of the Catholic church for her numerous visions of a woman who resembled the Virgin Mary. Church authorities later confirmed the apparitions were authentic. Bernadette died at the age of 35 in 1879 from tuberculosis. Her body was exhumed in 1919 during her canonization. According to the attending doctor, “The body is practically mummified, covered with patches of mildew and quite a notable layer of salts, which appear to be calcium salts… The skin has disappeared in some places, but it is still present on most parts of the body.” The body on display today is not all real. The hands and face are actually made of wax and were designed by Pierre Imans, a designer of fashion mannequins in Paris. Church officials believed her actual face had decayed too much and would be off-putting to visitors.

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St. Bernadette’s body on display.