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April 16

Saint of the day:

Saint  Bernadette Soubirous 

Patron Saint of illness, people ridiculed for their piety, poverty, shepherds, shepherdesses, and Lourdes, France

Saint Bernadette Soubirous’s Story

Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age.

There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette’s initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of “the Lady” brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There, the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig.

According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was.

Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation, Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862.

During her life, Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later, she petitioned to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame. After a period of illness she was able to make the journey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her arrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35.

Bernadette Soubirous was canonized in 1933.






Grotto of Lourdes

1 Avenue Mgr Théas, 65108 Lourdes, France

Phone: +33 5 62 42 78 78




The Song of Bernadette Trailer



What to Eat:
Food specialities of the Midi-Pyrénées
Chicken Cassoulet, Cannelés Bordelais, & Croustade

Gasconne Croustade or Gascon Pastis....The nun’s veil
Stretched dough & apples!

“This is a Gascon apple pie, and the amazing crust is so unbelievably thin that locals call it a ‘wedding veil’ or ‘nun’s veil’. This spectacular pie keeps well for a day, or even two, and can be reheated. ”


  • 1 kg apples , such as Golden Delicious or Chantecler

  • 100 ml armagnac brandy

  • 55 g unsalted butter

  • 12 sheets of filo pastry (270g)

  • 115 g caster sugar , plus extra for sprinkling

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar or a few drops of vanilla extract

  • 1 lemon


  1. Peel, core and quarter the apples, then thinly slice and place into a bowl. 
    Pour over the armagnac, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/gas 5. Melt the butter, then use a little to brush a loose-based 25cm round flan tin.

  3. Brush a sheet of pastry with the butter and lay it over the bottom of the tin, draping the excess over the sides.

  4. Sprinkle over ½ teaspoon of sugar. Brush a second pastry sheet with butter and lay it at right angles to the first, then sprinkle with sugar.

  5. Repeat the process with more pastry sheets, laying each sheet diagonally, until you have 4 pastry sheets left.

  6. Drain the apple slices, but not too thoroughly as the armagnac flavour is so good, then mix them in a bowl with the remaining sugar, the vanilla and lemon zest. 

  7. Pile the apple slices into the flan tin and spread them out evenly.

  8. Brush the remaining pastry sheets with butter and sprinkle with sugar, as before, then drape over the apples, butter-side down, with each sheet at right angles to the one before it.

  9. Draw the overhanging ends lightly over the top of the pie and arrange them so they stick up as much as possible, like crumpled tissue paper. They should completely cover the top of the pie, forming a light and airy crust. Brush lightly with butter.

  10. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden, then very loosely cover with a sheet of tin foil. Cook for a further 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

Allow it to cool slightly in the tin before transferring to a serving plate. If you feel nervous about doing this, serve it from the flan tin.

If you feel adventurous and want to pull your own dough here is the recipe, good luck!

Gasconne Croustade or Gascon Pastis....The nun’s veil

Ingredients of the dough:

  • Dough (for 2 strudel)

  • 4-1/2 – 5 cups flour

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 egg

  • 1-1/2 tsp vinegar

  • 1-1/2 tbsp oil

  • 1-1/2 cups tepid water


For the filling:

  • 3 tablespoons (40 grams) unsalted butter

  • 3 oz armagnac brandy

  • 3/4cup (80 grams) fine bread crumbs (dry)

  • 5 tablespoons (65 grams) granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 2 pounds (900 grams) sweet apples 

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing the dough (divided)

  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting and whipped cream for serving (optional)


  1. Start with 4 cups flour in the mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the salt, egg, vinegar, oil and water.

  2. Now combine the egg mixture into the flour in the bowl. Use as little of the extra flour as possible (about 1/2 cup) in the kneading to get a dough that flows when you hold it by the top half. Knead the dough until it is smooth and comes clean off of the hand. Depending on how hard you knead, this could take 10-20 minutes.

  3.  Divide the dough into two parts. Store in small, tight-sealing, oiled dishes. Rest the dough overnight at room temperature.

  4. For the pulling, you need a large table. Spread and clip a clean cloth (a colored table cloth works great) over a large rectangular table. Flour the cloth and turn the dough from one dish out onto the center.  With a floured rolling pin roll it out long and narrow, as much as possible. Brush the dough evenly with melted butter,.  Lift and stretch the dough to about double its size.  Brush the dough evenly with melted butter, concentrating on the edges. Lift and stretch the dough (including the middle) until it hangs over all the sides. When finished stretching, remove the thickened edge by rolling  it on a hand as it is torn off.

  5. If the fruit is very juicy  squeeze some juice out. One one end of the long edge (about 6-10 inches from the edge), sprinkle with the bread crumbs, then sugar, apples, raisins and cinnamon

  6. cut the dough to hang over the tart pan. coated with butter add the bread crumbs top with the apples, layer on more butter sheets of the dough

  7. Bake for about 20-25 minutes (375'F)


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