Based on Franz Werfel's historical novel, a poor girl of Lourdes alone can see a lady and is guided to discover a spring with healing water.
In February 1858 Bernadette Soubirous (Jennifer Jones) is humiliated at school. Left alone by a river she has a vision and tells her sisters she saw a lady who disappeared. Her father gets a better job, and Bernadette says the lady told her to come for fifteen days. Her mother (Ann Revere) forbids her, but Aunt Bernarde takes them to the grotto. Bernadette sees the lady, but the others do not. Newspapers report the Lourdes story, and Dr. Dozous (Lee J. Cobb) reports his observations to city leaders. The mayor Lacade (Aubrey Mather) and the prosecutor Dutour (Vincent Price) go to the priest Peyramale (Charles Bickford), who says the church has nothing to do with it. Dutour has Bernadette arrested and warns her of fraud. Police chief Jacomet (Charles Dingle) questions her until her father comes for her.
Her teacher, Sister Marie Therese (Gladys Cooper), tells the priest she will ridicule the girl. Bernadette goes to Peyramale and says the lady asked him to build a chapel. He threatens to beat her; but she comes right back, and he asks the lady to make the wild rose bloom. People expect it on Thursday. The lady tells Bernadette to drink from the spring and wash. Bernadette digs in the ground and puts mud on her face. Jacomet tells people they were duped, and they leave. Antoine (William Eythe) and a sculptor stay and see the spring water. The sculptor tells Dr. Dozous the mud cured his vision, and a baby's paralyzed leg is cured in the water. Word spreads, and people bring the sick on pilgrimages. Bernadette says the lady said, "I am the immaculate conception." Peyramale explains it to Bernadette and warns her to wake up. Dutour and Jacomet tell the mayor to have the water analyzed before giving it. He says Lourdes is prospering, but he makes the proclamation. Dutour gets a psychiatrist to question Bernadette, but Peyramale defends her. He asks his superior for a church investigation, and the grotto is closed until the Emperor intervenes. Madame Bruat pays the fine for herself and the others, and Empress Eugenie gives water that makes the prince better, persuading Louis Napoleon to open the grotto.
A commission questions Bernadette and others. Peyramale explains her responsibility to choose heaven, and Bernadette agrees. She says goodbye to her parents and Peyramale, and Antoine says he will not marry. In the convent Sister Marie Therese says Bernadette has not suffered; but Marie Therese repents when she learns of her painful knee. Bernadette will not go to Lourdes because it is not for her. While dying she confirms her testimony.
This true story shows how various people react to the
extraordinary events that result from a sincere girl's visionary