The church of Our Lady of Victories and St. Bernadette at Bournemouth in the UK, is
regarded as the first church in the world established in the name of St Bernadette.

The church was constructed during the years between 1933 and 1934.

The church is famous for the very fact that, the relics of Saint Bernadette, the patron saint of our mission, are kept here.

The body of Bernadette Soubirous was exhumed on three occasions as part of the process of beatification and retrieval of the relics. The last time the body was exhumed was on the 18th of April 1925, forty-six years after her death!

When her body was exhumed, it was found to be intact and without any odour. The doctors and others from the community claims that although the crucifix in her hand and her rosary had both oxidized, her body appeared incorrupt – preserved from decomposition. This was cited as one of the miracles to support her canonization.

On the 14th June 1925, Pius XI proclaimed Bernadette Soubirous “Blessed”.

The body was exhumed again a further two times and on 18th July 1925, her body was transferred to a glass shrine within the chapel of the convent of Saint- Gildard in Nevers.

“In 1970, the Convent at Nevers was converted into a pilgrimage centre dedicated to Soubirous, run by volunteers and a few sisters and known as Espace Bernadette Soubirous Nevers.”

The “Original Acts”, preserved in the Archives of Nevers and written in Latin, indicate that the following were taken for the relics, when the body was exhumed:

  • A fragment of the 5th rib.
  • A fragment of the 6th rib.
  • The kneecaps.
  • A sample of muscle, from the external part of the right femur.
  • Lots of hair.
  • And various fragments which came from muscles and skin.

The conservation and attribution of these relics were entrusted to the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers, under the vigilance of the Bishop of Nevers. These relics were given, in the form of ex-carne (from the flesh) or ex-ossibus (from the bone) fragments, to various houses of their Congregation. The relic in the reliquary, which is currently travelling through France and abroad, is an ex-carne relic, given to the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception (Fathers of Garaison).

In August 1933 St Bernadette Church at Bournemouth received a part of St Bernadette’s relics. See letter from the Bishop of Nevers available at this church as a proof of this.

The relics of St Bernadette are preserved at the Bournemouth church, in a silver reliquary in the form of a Gothic shrine as in the picture below.

This reliquary will be brought to the St Bernadette Feast ‘Thirunnal’ on April 20th, and

all will have the opportunity to venerate them on the day of the feast.

On the 8th of December 1933, Pope Pius XI canonized Saint Bernadette. It is remarkable to note that, on the same day in 1933 Pope Pius XI presented an Ivory statue of St Bernadette to the Our Lady & St Bernadette Church of Bournemouth, through the Bishop of Plymouth.

This statue is kept at the southeast corner of the nave inside the Bournemouth church, in a glass case.

A letter dated 12th January 1934 from the Bishop of Plymouth mentioning about the gifted
statue from Pope Pius XI to is given below.

St Bernadette’s feast day is celebrated world over on 16th April, which is the day of her passing. Our Mission decided that we will celebrate her feast on the Saturday on or after this date. This year her feast day is celebrated on the 20th April 2024, at the Normandy Village Hall.

St Bernadette is regarded as the Patroness of the Sick.

Come and get her blessings..!

St Bernadette Pray for us…!!

Please register your presence here.