I like to think that St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Fatima are friends of mine.
When I was little, I had CCC videos about St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Fatima that I watched on repeat (you’ve probably watched a CCC video in catechism or religion class; they’re animated videos about the life of a saint, and there are about 12 of them).
Those two CCC videos led to a devotion to Saint Bernadette and Our Lady of Fatima. I didn’t know it as a little girl, but those two holy women, St. Bernadette especially, would come to play a much larger role in my life later on.
Two weeks before Christmas in 2011, my grandmother, whom I call Nana, was diagnosed with cancer. A pill like that is hard to swallow no matter what, but she was in her 60s, and although chemo was possible, it would be hard on her body and there were no promises.
I remember praying to my patronesses as soon as I heard the news. St. Bernadette is the patron saint of bodily illness, and I pleaded for her intercession for my Nana. Not long after, my prayers were answered.
Months before she’d been diagnosed, my Nana had signed up for a pilgrimage, which everyone had forgotten about following the news of her diagnosis. She decided she wanted to go through with treatment regardless of the physical toll it would take on her – but only after she returned from her trip.
And where else would that pilgrimage take her but to to Fatima and Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette?
If you didn’t know, many people have been miraculously healed after bathing in Lourdes water, and seeing as how she had just been diagnosed with cancer, this pre-planned trip to Lourdes was a miracle in itself.
She left in January and was scheduled to be abroad for three weeks, visiting France, Spain and Portugal. The trip got off to a rough start – my Nana and the group got stranded in the Chicago O’Hare airport for two days because of a blizzard, which meant that their pilgrimage was cut a few days short.
But she still got to go to Fatima and Lourdes, and at Lourdes, she got to bathe in the holy spring, even though it was the middle of winter and extremely cold. In spite of the temperature, my Nana said the water was not freezing, and she was perfectly comfortable in it.
She was not immediately healed, but when she returned to the US and started treatment, her body responded better than the doctors had anticipated. And even in the middle of horrible, awful chemo, you never would have known how much she was suffering – another miracle.
Her cancer has now been in remission for about five years now and she’s as healthy as ever. She’s more active than I am (she does yoga, Pilates and goes to the gym five days a week) and spends her free time volunteering at her church. My Nana is planning to go on another pilgrimage soon, this time to Mexico City to visit the Guadalupe Basilica – and maybe if I’m lucky, she’ll take me with her.
Another little miracle: When it came time to choose a confirmation name, I was stuck between “Fatima” and “Bernadette,” but my confirmation teacher made the choice for me – I was told I had to choose the name of a saint, not Our Lady, so my confirmation name is Bernadette.
And who was my sponsor? None other than my Nana, who I believe was healed by St. Bernadette’s intercession.
St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Fatima are friends of mine.
Blog post written by Ann Marcelli