Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Song of Bernadette

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, another one of those festal days sprinkled throughout Advent, the celebration of which helps to remind us that we are the party-church. Since we were homeschoolers, I always gave my kids a day off on December 8th, and of course we went to Mass. And we probably had a special dessert. (Someday I'll write a book called The Role of the Stomach in the Assimilation of Catholic Culture.) But unlike the Feast of St. Nicholas, we never had a special book which we always read in honor of the day.

I was thinking about this today when it occurred to me that I had never read The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel. The author of this fictionalized account of St. Bernadette was neither a Catholic nor a Christian. He was a Jewish playwright whose satirical plays lampooning the Nazi regime were a hit in Vienna, so he had to flee to France when Germany annexed Austria in 1938. He found refuge in the town of Lourdes where various families took turns sheltering him and his wife. It was there that he heard the story of Bernadette Soubirous and her visions of a Lady who identified herself only as "the Immaculate Conception." In gratitude, he vowed that if he and his wife escaped to safety he would write Bernadette's story as a novel. The book was hot stuff when it was published in 1942. It was on the New York Times Best Seller list for over a year and was made into a movie in 1943.

It's one of those books I've always heard of, but have never actually read. So just to be seasonal, I think I'll give it a try and will let you know what I think.

In the mean time, have a blessed Advent and "Party on, dudes!"

1 comment:

Enbrethiliel said...


Speaking of the role of the stomach in the assimilation of Catholic culture . . .

I just heard Joanna Bogle on EWTN explaining that everything in the material world can help us learn about Jesus, including things that we taste. While she was lecturing so beautifully, she was making mince pies. These are traditionally shaped like ovals to recall the manger in which Jesus lay; and the fruits, spices and brandy inside the pastry are supposed to recall the sweetness of the Child Jesus. It's all very Eucharistic.

But I'm sure Catholic homeschoolers have long known of this special dessert! =P I went to a "regular" school for eleven years and was at the mercy of its cafeteria. My stomach has a lot of catching up to do!