On 16 April 1879, Bernadette - or Sister Marie-Bernard, as she was known within her Order - died in the Sainte Croix (Holy Cross) Infirmary of the of Saint-Gildard. She was thirty-five.
Born into a humble which little by little fell into extreme poverty, Bernadette had always been a frail child. Quite young, she had already suffered from digestive trouble, then after having just escaped being a victim of the cholera epidemic of 1855, she experienced painful attacks of asthma, and her ill health almost caused her to be cut off for ever from the religious life. When asked by Forcade to take Bernadette, Louise Ferrand, the Mother of the Sisters of Nevers, replied: "Monsignor, she be a pillar of the infirmary."
At least three times during her short life-time, she received the last Sacraments. She was gradually struck by other illnesses as well as asthma: among them, tuberculosis of the lung and a tubercular tumour on her knee. On Wednesday, 16 April 1879, her pain got much worse. Shortly after eleven she seemed almost to be suffocating and was carried to an armchair, where she sat with her feet on a footstool in front of a blazing fire. She died at about 3:15 in the afternoon.
The civil authorities permitted her body to remain on view to be venerated by the public until Saturday, April 19th. Then it was"placed in a double coffin of lead and oak which was sealed in the presence of witnesses who signed a record of the events." Among the witnesses were "inspector of the peace, Devraine, and constables Saget and Moyen."
The of Saint-Gildard, with the support of the of Nevers, applied to the civil authorities for permission to bury Bernadette's body in a small dedicated to Saint which was within the confines of the convent. The permission was granted on 25 April 1879, and on April 30th, the local Prefect pronounced his approval of the choice of the site for burial. Immediately they set to work on preparing the vault. On 30 May 1879, Bernadette's coffin was finally transferred to the of the of Saint Joseph. A very simple was held to commemorate the event.