A New Reliquary for St. Bernadette by Granda Liturgical Arts

While most of the incorrupt body of the visionary of Lourdes is venerated at the Convent of St-Gildard in Nevers, when the body was examined in 1925 in anticipation of her beatification, some relics were taken to Lourdes. A magnificent neo-romanesque reliquary chasse was commissioned to the Lyonese firm Armand Caillat Fils in which the relics were encased and are today venerated in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Lourdes.

Since 2017, under the initiative of Mons. Nicol├ás Browet, bishop of Tarbes-Lourdes, the relics of St Bernadette have travelled to several dioceses all over Europe. After several voyages, it was deemed that the large chasse was not the best option for travel, and serious concerns were raised as to its conservation. There was also the issue that while the relics where on tour, pilgrims at Lourdes would not be able to venerate St Bernadette’s relics.

Thus, in 2019, coinciding with the “Year of Bernadette”, a new reliquary was commissioned to Granda Liturgical Arts. The new travelling reliquary is modeled after 14th century tower reliquaries. The bishop, chaplains and archivist of the basilica worked together with Granda's team of silversmiths, architects, designers and artists to create a work that reflected unequivocally the spirit of Lourdes and St Bernadette.

The reliquary stands 70cm (27"½) tall, entirely plated in 24 carat gold and incorporates many elements that give it this unique Lourdais character. The structure is an octagonal neo-gothic spire, much like those foind in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. This belltower shape symbolizes the message of Lourdes spread to all the world, like the toll of the bells calling on the faithful. It is surmounted by Christ’s glorious Cross and his Mother’s Crown, identical to those on the dome of the Basilica of the Rosary.

The vibrant enameled panels are inspired by the stained glass windows of the Basilica, depicting St Bernadette kneeling at Our Lady’s feet. On the base of the piece are inscribed cartouches reading : Que soy era Immaculada Concepciou (“I am the Immaculate Conception” as spoken by Our Lady in Bernadette’s native Gascon dialect), Il suffit d’aimer (Bernadette’s words- “It is enough to Love”), Salus Infirmorum and Refugium peccatorum (As part the character of the Sanctuary).

The Reliquary was solemnly Blessed on May 30 and processed to the Grotto. The first tour that St Bernadette’s relics will make in this new reliquary shall be to Spain from September to December of 2019, visiting 45 different dioceses. If you would like to request that St Bernadettes relics tour your diocese, you may contact your local Lourdes Hospitality Chapter or write to [email protected]

Photography Credits: GRANDA, Sanctuaire de Lourdes

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