From our own Correspondent LOURDES, Wednesday. ALL Lourdes is talking about a new book which is expected to clear up many errors and misconceptions about St. Bernadette's life, and to etch the outlines of her personality more deeply.
It is the second volume of Canon Laurentin's richly documented "Authentic History of Lourdes" and it reveals a number of newly discovered incidents in Bernadette's early life.
It tells the tale of her experience as a waitress in a rest aurant, when her generous heart tended to overrule her employer's head when it came to re-filling the wine glasses.
There are details of her favourite games, and of the tricks played on her by Jeanne Abadie. There is also an account of her quarrels with her nurse, who, though she apparently loved Bernadette, made her suffer in so many ways. The controversial evidence of the Abbe Ader is re-examined.
But Canon Laurentin has not merely been filling in details. He lays emphasis on the approach that the truth of the apparitions is borne out by a full psychological and sociological study of Bernadette and her background. The passages describing the economic hardships of the period are starkly dramatic and gripping.
"The truth," said Canon Laurentin in a press interview, "is made up of the many little facts unknown until now.
The book is illustrated by photographs taken in and around Lourdes at the time of the apparitions, and there are photographs of Mme. Milhet, the former maidservant, weirdly dressed, who decided to take Bernadette to the grotto on the fateful February 8, and whose eccentricity was one of the reasons why the child's story was not at first believed.
(Fr. Bernard Slevin, C.S.Sp„ Bickley, Kent, who has just returned from Lourdes, told the CATHOLIC HERAT n in London that the book was creating immense interest.)