Bernadette’s photographs were taken at the dawn of photography in Lourdes and Nevers. She was never photographed during the apparitions, however. More than 70 authentic photographs were collected by Father René Laurentin, historian of Lourdes. They were all taken between 1861 and 1868, and then the funeral photographs in 1879.
This exhibition reveals Bernadette’s obedience to the whims of six impresarios-photographers, but also her poise, her sense of proportion, her inwardness. One can sense her capacity for defiance, on which she drew when faced with the administrative authorities raging against her.
Bernadette’s life is presented through the series of ‘gemmaux’, (a form of stained-glass art) “a path of light”. It is also an opportunity to pay tribute to this art-form first introduced to Lourdes in 1969 *. After admiring the exhibition, you can go to the underground basilica where you can see these ‘gemmaux’ gently lit, as well as those featuring The Mysteries of the Rosary by Robert Falcucci (1987) and the Way of the Cross of Christ by Denys de Solère (1981).
* The term gemmail is a contraction of “gem” (a precious stone or coloured glass) and “enamel” (which fixes the fragments of glass). Unlike stained glass, gemmail is an overlaying of fragments of coloured glass which let in light. This technique was first introduced by Jean Crotti after the Second World War and developed by Roger Malherbe-Navarre. The gammail is characterised by being backlit, a feature which is used to help illuminate the underground basilica of Saint Pius X.