[Read by Johanna Ward]
The Song of Bernadette is considered one of the greatest novels of simple and triumphant religious faith to be published in the twentieth century. How the book came to be written is itself an inspirational, even miraculous, story in its own right.
In June 1940, famed Austrian author Franz Werfel and his beautiful wife, Alma Mahler, were on a desperate flight across France, seeking to escape certain death at the hands of the Nazi invaders. Franz had written many articles and given many radio speeches denouncing their tyranny. Repeatedly thwarted in their attempts to cross the French border into neutral Spain, they found temporary refuge in the small town of Lourdes, home of the famous shrine where the virtuous Bernadette received visions of the Virgin Mary and where millions came in faith to seek a miracle.
During his time in Lourdes, Werfel became fascinated with Bernadette's story, and then, as his faith grew, he began to visit the sacred grotto every day, taking the waters and swearing an oath that, should he and his wife be granted escape from the Nazis, he would write the story of Bernadette for all the world to savor.
Franz's prayers were answered. In a harrowing ascent over the Pyrenees mountains, he and Alma fled to Spain and then on to America. Once there, Franz kept his promise. He wrote The Song of Bernadette, his masterpiece, a beautiful fusion of faith and craft.
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