Bernadette Soubirous was born in Lourdes, France on January 7, 1844. Her family was extremely poor and Bernadette suffered from asthma and other illnesses. In 1858, as a young girl of fourteen Bernadette was privileged to see the Virgin Mary in a cave near the Gave River. Bernadette obediently dug the hard ground when instructed by Our Lady and miraculously a spring flowed where none had been before. Bernadette saw Our Lady several times during February and March of that year and pilgrims began visiting Lourdes. Miraculous healings have been reported at the Shrine of Lourdes, over a hundred of them documented by medical experts as having no natural cause. Of course, the apparitions were not the reason Bernadette was canonized; saints are canonized because they have lived lives of heroic virtue, not because of mystic phenomena. She entered the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1866 and led a life of virtue and great suffering until her death in April 1879. She was canonized in 1833 by Pope Pius XI.