Saturday 6 April 2013

Bernadette's sense of humour

Dominique Arnauld was talking about Bernadette Soubirous in the little break. He had just re-read a life, and was touched and impressed. Once she entered the convent, she was allowed to tell her story once, and then she was treated just like any other sister. That, I thought, was the best. Can't have a special novice to whom Our Lady appeared, and all the rest. But when some bishop passed by, she was often called to talk. "L'eveque te veux voir," the superior would tell her. And Bernadette: "Il veux me faire voir." She refused to take herself too seriously, and retained a lovely sense of humour all through her short life: she died at the age of 36; she had had her apparitions at age 17.

She seems to have suffered much before she died. "My vocation is to suffer," she would say, and not in any miserable self-pitying way, I would imagine. A cheerful matter-of-fact kind of person. The best kind of saint, I think.

One last incident: when she was sick, a bishop came to see her, and allowed his zuchetta to fall on her bed, hoping she would pick it up and give it back to him, so that he might have a zucchetta touched by a saint. She refused to do it. The bishop asked: Won't you pick it up and give it to me? - Why should I, she replied, to the scandal of her sisters. I did not ask for it. You pick it up yourself.

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