The Song of Bernadette
By Franz Werfel
This is the classic work that tells the true story surrounding the miraculous visions of St. Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, France in 1858. Werfel, a highly respected anti-Nazi writer from Vienna, became a Jewish refugee who barely escaped death in 1940, and wrote this moving story to fulfill a promise he made to God. While hiding in the little village of Lourdes, Werfel felt the Nazi noose tightening, and realizing that he and his wife might well be caught and executed, he made a promise to God to write about the “song of Bernadette” that he had been inspired by during his clandestine stay in Lourdes. Though Werfel was Jewish, he was so deeply impressed by both Bernadette and the happenings at Lourdes, that his writing has a profound sense of Catholic understanding.
“On re-reading the Song, what struck me most about Werfel’s craft was how deeply this Jewish writer, who had long been interested in Catholicism but who had never converted, had entered into Catholicism’s sacramental imagination. For all its unsparing depiction of the poverty of the French Pyrenees, the pettiness of local officialdom, the skepticism and institutional-mindedness of local churchmen, The Song of Bernadette is shot through with a sense of the extraordinary that lies on the far side of the ordinary, revealing itself through the simplest things.” —George Weigel, from the Foreword