Prayer of St. Bernadette
Prayer by St. Bernadette in Times of Affliction
"O my God, I beg You, by Your loneliness, not that You may spare me affliction, but that You may not abandon me in it. When I encounter affliction, teach me to see You in it as my sole Comforter. Let affliction strengthen my faith, fortify my hope, and purify my love. Grant me the grace to see Your Hand in my affliction, and to desire no other comforter but You. Amen."
Bernadette was a sickly child; she had cholera in infancy and suffered most of her life from asthma, and some of the people who interviewed her following her revelation of the visions thought her simple-minded. However, despite being rigorously interviewed by officials of both the Catholic Church and the French government, she stuck consistently to her story. Her behavior during this period is said to set the example by which all who have claimed visions and mystical experiences are now judged by Church authorities
The Church exhumed the corpse a second time on 3 April 1919. A doctor who examined the body noted, "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."
In 1925, the church exhumed the body for a third time. They took relics, which were sent to Rome. A precise imprint of the face was molded so that the firm of Pierre Imans in Paris could make a wax mask based on the imprints and on some genuine photos. This was common practice for relics in France, as it was feared that the blackish tinge to the face and the sunken eyes and nose would make an unpleasant impression on the public. Imprints of the hands were also taken for the presentation of the body and the making of wax casts. The remains were then placed in a gold and crystal reliquary in the Chapel of Saint Bernadette at the mother house in Nevers. The site is visited by many pilgrims and the body of Saint Bernadette is still shown despite being nearly 130 years old.
As soon as she was dead," stated Sister Bernard Dalias, in the archives of the community at Nevers, "Bernadette's face became young and peaceful again, with a look of purity and blessedness." The infirmarians clothed her in her religious habit. "We had no difficulty in doing so," observed Sister de Vigouroux, "for her body was supple even though she had been dead for two hours." Moreover, it remained like that until the funeral.