Sunday, July 19, 2009
Lourdes is no longer the village that Bernadette Soubirous left in 1879. It is now a modern tourist destination with all its trappings of hotels, restaurants and even bars. It is a far cry from the view the peasant child had from her window. But the Queen of Heaven found it fitting to visit it and the illiterate girl, and through the 14-year-old, the world would come to know the Immaculate Conception. A pilgrimage to Lourdes is like no other I have experienced and emotional for me. The Rosary and the hymns to Ave Maria is what drew my parents there so many times. It is what drew my niece Sam, and now me.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
It was farewell to Paris after breakfast and off into the trustworthy Citroen C4 for the eight-hour drive south to Lourdes. A wrong turned didn't prevent us from getting on the A10 fast enough. But a few massive jams and intermittent showers slowed the journey down to 10 hours. Sam enjoyed the sights of the vineyards and sunflower nurseries. In the middle of the showers, on the approached near Lourdes, we were blessed with beautiful sunshine at 9pm, just enough to get us to Lourdes before the showers took over again. We stopped at the Church first at 9.45pm to visit the grotto where our Blessed Virgin Mother of God appeared to Benedette. It was almost 11pm when we finally checked into the Notre Dame Hotel and sat down to dinner.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Our day started early with the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal. We were in time for Mass at 10.30. It is here, in this Chapel, that Our Blessed Mother appeared to Catherine Laboure three times between July and November 1830 and charged her with a mission from Her Son Jesus Christ. Catherine was also given the task of producing the Miraculous Medal which the Mother of God designed Herself. St Catherine died on Jan 3, 1877 and 50 years after her death, under the authorisation of Cardinal Verdier, the mystic's body was exhumed in view of her beatification. She was found in exactly the same condition as when she was laid to rest in 1877, her body intact and limbs supple. Catherine was canonised on July 27, 1947 and her body now rests in a reliquary under the statue of Our Lady. Another saint's uncorrupted body in a reliquary in the chapel is St Louise de Marillac, founder of the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. Today, the Chapelle Notre Dame de la Médaille Miraculeuse (Chapel of Our Lady's Miraculous Medal) in Rue du Bac, Paris, is a centre of devotion to the Blessed Mother. The Chapel is beautiful, I hope we have a chance to visit it again, but we are off on an eight-hour road drive to Lourdes tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
July14: We take off on SQ334 at 11.30pm tonight. Paris' Grand Dame will surely look her stately best when we arrive just as a new day dawns in the city of romance. But as much as she may be charming, we have a date with the most beautiful Lady that ever lived, first at Rue de Bac, then Lourdes and at Fatima. Watch this space.