The State of Virginity

The State of Virginity
I should like you to be free of all worries. The unmarried man is busy with the Lord's affairs, concerned with pleasing the Lord; but the married man is busy with this world's demands and occupied with pleasing his wife. This means he is divided. The virgin - indeed, any unmarried woman - is concerned with things of the Lord, in pursuit of holiness in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has the cares of this world to absorb her and concerned with pleasing her husband. I am going into this with you for your own good. I have no desire to place restrictions on you, but I do want to promote what is good, what will help you to devote yourselves entirely to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Sunday, February 28, 2010


More commonly known as the "house where Bernadette was born", this modest two-storey building is at 12 rue Bernadette Soubirous. The Soubirous family lived in the Boly Mill when Bernadette was born on 7th January 1844. Her parents, Francois Soubirous and Louise Casterot were poor millers, and they were were generally known in Lourdes as the "Millers of Boly". The Soubirous family lived in the mill from 9th January 1843 until 24th June 1854 when they were forced to leave as they could no longer afford the rent of 250 francs a year. At that time, Bernadette was 10 years old.

Before the French Revolution, the mill belonged to Anne de Candebotte who married an English doctor, David Boly, and the mill was named after him. The mill was actually Anne de Candebotte's dowry when she married the doctor on 19th June 1645. Over the years, the mill had many tenants. Augustin Casterot was the miller when he died in a road accident on 1st July 1841. His widow, Claire, was suddenly on her own with four girls and two little boys to support. A man was needed to run the business as Claire was unable to run the mill alone. Her choice fell upon Francois Soubirous, an employee in a neighbouring mill who was still a bachelor at thirty-four. He was invited to court the eldest girl, Bernarde, the 'heiress' as was the custom. Francois, however, fell in love with the second daughter, 17-year-old Louise. Francois was told that the girl was too young but he was adamant to make Louise his wife. Having tried in vain to make him change his mind, Claire Casterot eventually relented.

The wedding took place on 9th January 1843. Having been entrusted with the management of the mill by his mother-in-law, Claire Casterot, he and Louise took up residence there. Francois Soubirous was a hardworking and honest man but not a man of great enterprise. Business at the mill deteriorated. A series of adverse circumstances finally reduced the Soubirous family to poverty and they had to abandon the mill.

Today, the Boly Mill has become one of the pilgrims' favourite places. On the ground floor to the right is the old mill. To the left is the room which was once used to load and unload cereals and flour but which now holds a small collection of memorabilia. On the first floor is the bedroom where Bernadette was born. The other rooms in the house were used by Louise's mother and her children. Since 1988, the Boly Mill has belonged to the "L'oeuvre de la grotte" and has been looked after by the Daughters of the Church. Admission is free. Opening hours: 9.00am-Noon; 2.00pm-6.30 pm.

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