The first discovery of religion for Bernadette was in contemplation.
She knew the Carmelite convent in Bagnères. In 1860-61 she spoke to her cousin about an order dedicated to St. Bernard. She wished to go there because they practised vigils, fasting, discipline, mortification… but Bernadette's health was an obstacle as well as her poverty because you to be requested to join.
In 1863, the Sisters at the Hospice asked her to look after the sick. This was a decisive experience. What she really appreciated about the Sisters of Nevers was their discretion towards her compared with other congregations that sought her. Later she said "I'm going to Nevers because they did not try to attract me".
On 27th September 1863, Bernadette has an interesting conversation with Bishop Forcade of Nevers. During the following months, Bernadette developed her intentions on this new base.
On 4th April 1864, after Mass in the Hospice, Bernadette sought out the Mother superior, Sister Alexandrine Roques, and told her: "Now I know, dear Mother, where I must become a sister (…). With you, dear Mother."
From 4th October to 19th November 1864, Bernadette left on holidays without a reply to her request of previous 4th April. In Nevers, the Superior, Mother Josephine Imbert, hesitated. She was uneasy about the difficulties that the famous visionary would cause for the religious house that accepted her. Mother Marie-Therese Vauzou, the Mistress of Novices, was in favour. The bishop supported the request.
When she returned to on 19th November she received the good news that the response was favourable.
Her postulancy could begin. Bernadette delayed it from the beginning of December 1864 to the end of January 1865. Her convalescence was further set back by the death of her young brother Justin.
Bernadette began her postulancy in February 1865 and in April 1866 she requested to enter the Novitiate.
On 28th April 1866, she announced her departure. But Bishop Laurence wanted her present at the opening of the Crypt. Bernadette attended the celebration and took part in the first official procession in response to the request of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Bernadette underwent the attention of the curious and finally, Bishop Laurence allowed her to depart.
On 3rd July 1866, the whole family were together for a final meal in the Lacadé Mill.