Abbe Francois Trochu is the author of the biographies ""The Cure d Ars: St. Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney"" and ""St. Bernadette Soubirous"". His work on ""The Cure d Ars"" was originally published in 1927 by Burns Oates and Washbourne. In this definitive biography, Abbe Trochu compiled a great number of extraordinary facts about the saint, based on his life and vocation. It was written using the records and documents of the Church as a guide, and presented with a vivid and accurate picture of one of the most beloved saints of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Finally after many years I have had the wonderful fortune of spending time with the Blessed St. Bernadette. This 'ignorant' miller's daughter suffered so much in the flesh and was so persecuted at first for her strong faith by the older more educated people who just didn't understand that the reason the Blessed Mother would appear to her, a mere uneducated child, was because Mary herself was a pure simple girl also. To read about Bernadette is to live and walk in her path of holiness. This is by far the best account I have found of her life and the events that happened at Lourdes. This book is truly a blessing for those that believe in the communion of saints. May we all find inspiration in the life of Bernadette to lead a life of prayer and penance, penance, penance.
The problem with being a noted visionary is that one may be so associated with the related devotion that little of one's own "true life" story is explored. Trochu's work is a treat for those who wish to know the true Bernadette - not merely the holy card image.Trochu's biography is extensive, engaging, and honest. He lets the reader see Bernadette's genuine faith and devotion (and struggles, with community and hierarchy), without descending into hagiography. It is a fascinating, very "fleshed out" picture, dispelling myths (such as the "happy shepherdess"), and giving one a thorough picture of Bernadette's strong, simple personality, tenacity, and family and religious life.
This was a fine work written by an obviously devoted priest about the life of the enigmatic Bernadette. He covers all of the bases, from birth to beatification, but tends to downplay the realism of her family's moral falures and flaws. The generally-held notion that Bernadette's parents were a bit on the drunken-but-lovable side does not detract from Bernadette's grace and bearing. In fact, for me, it makes Bernadette and her experience shine ever the more brightly. But, this book was written long ago, when unsavory realities were far more "brushed under the table" than they are in this day, even in biographies. What saves the book from being a devotional piece is the attention to detail and loads of great quotes and information. The book is almost worth it just for the photos of Bernadette alone. I don't believe you can judge a person by their appearance, for the good or for the bad, but if Bernadette Soubirous' face doesn't transmit an underlying, supernatural graciousness, then no face on this earth ever has done so. All in all, a fine "life's work" that this good priest should now be proud of...in heaven with his beloved Bernadette.
All Catholics, I suppose, have heard of Lourdes and may know something about it. But generally they probably know very little. If they know English only and have not read this book, then they may not know as much as it would benefit them to know. Translated from French, this is the best book available in English on the subject, as far as I know. The subject is not one that can go out of date.
Postscript 2010: I did not find this book sentimental. The author writes from a standpoint of faith, but of an open-eyed, honest kind. There would be no other way to treat the subject unless one were trying to "debunk" it.
2011: There is no question in my mind that Lourdes is a highly commercialized pilgrimage site. The commercialization began even in Bernadette Soubirous's lifetime, even while she was still living in Lourdes, before she was accepted into a convent. She totally rejected the commercialization. This is why one needs to know about the Lourdes of 1858 and to keep that Lourdes in mind even as one realizes that the true subject is eternal.
I loved this book. It was written so well that you actually get a good idea of the personality and life of the saint. Most books written on the saints omit the little things that aren't deemd "saintly", but this author did a good job at getting at the personality of St. Bernadette while explaining her life as well.
I haven't been able to put this book down..I'm happily astounded at how much the author quotes official reports and other period documents as well as anecdotal material . The text is wonderfully though...it's St. Bernadette 101 AND it's a good read! It's fascinating how Bernadette saw The Lady,and was transformed...but those around her were transformed by looking at the change that came over Bernadette. Many wonderful photos...she has a compelling face...I say has since her incorrupt body is still on view! A remarkable story very well told.....
I could not put this book down. The story of Bernadette is intensely beautiful. I was very familiar with her story, but this book filled in many details I was ignorant about. I read the book over two nights and it left me feeling refreshed. Bernadette is such an inspirational young woman. As I was about to go to bed on the first night I read the chapter about the devil trying to chase Bernadette and Our Lady away from the grotto. It was a frightening passage and one that I was not familiar with regarding the appartions. Bernadette's suffering was intense and yet serenely beautiful. I just ordered the book on Bernadette written in her own words. In addition, I've ordered to two recent French films dealing with the Appartion's and Bernadette's suffering on the road to Sainthood. I hope to one day visit Lourdes until then I feel Bernadette's presence through these great works of literature and film.