The year is 1909, and it’s been 30 years since the death of Bernadette Soubirous – a simple but pious girl from a small town in France. Doctors are preparing to perform the first exhumation of her body. And in normal circumstances, the medics might expect to find some degree of natural decomposition. But Bernadette was no ordinary person.
As a teenager in Lourdes, Bernadette became notorious for apparently experiencing visions of the Virgin Mary. Wanting to escape the attention, however, she lived out the rest of her days humbly at a Catholic convent in Nevers, France. Yet Bernadette’s life was blighted by ill health. And the Frenchwoman passed away at the young age of 35 after a prolonged battle with tuberculosis.
So, when experts came to dig up Bernadette’s body in 1909, they were searching for evidence that might explain the supposed divine encounters that had brought her fame as a young woman. And as the team carefully prized the stone slab off her tomb and cracked open the coffin, they were met by an eerie sight. You see, three decades after Bernadette’s death, her body remained mysteriously intact.