Ninth Apparition – Thursday 25 February 1858

This day was cold misty and rainy and when Bernadette finally appeared the police recorded a crowd of more than 350 hoping to witness her ecstasy.

“(The Lady) told me that I should go and drink at the fountain and wash myself. Seeing no fountain I went to drink at the Gave. She said it was not there; she pointed with her finger that I was to go in under the rock. I went, and I found a puddle of water which was more like mud, and the quantity was so small that I could hardly gather a little in the hollow of my hand. Nevertheless I obeyed, and started scratching the ground; after doing that I was able to take some. The water was so dirty that three times I threw it away. The fourth time I was able to drink it. She made me eat grass growing in the same place where I had drunk; once only; I do not know why. Then the Vision disappeared and I went home.”

The crowd was surprised and shocked at her behaviour and when they saw her face it was almost unrecognisable, covered with mud, with a tuft of grass pulled up from the ground in her mouth. The observers soon became angry and others were appalled at the spectacle. The local press had a great time mocking Bernadette and proclaimed that “the gullible have been well and truly had … and that Bernadette’s real place should be in the asylum”.

Estrade, was to write in his diary that it was “An unforgettably gloomy day” as he now had to suffer the taunts of his colleagues at the Café Français. Furious at having let themselves be dragged into this misadventure, they discovered that Bernadette was a “filthy little upstart.” The local authorities sensed the changed mood in the town and acted quickly. That same evening, Bernadette was summoned to appear before Dutour, the Imperial Public Prosecutor. He was the same man responsible for landing Bernadette’s father in prison.

For two long hours, Bernadette stood on her feet with her mother standing beside her. The fourteen–year–old girl endured a tough interrogation. She was questioned, accused, and threatened with all kinds of insinuations. The worry of the interrogation weakened her mother and she fainted. The inspector however was not to be deterred but did allow them to eventually have chairs to sit on. Bernadette took great care that her statements never exceed precisely what she had seen.