Tuesday, April 3, 2018
A Catholic Pilgrim in Paris: A Photo Essay

Continuing the account of my travels last month, after finishing five days in Netherlands and Belgium, I arrived via train in Paris at night on March 7th.  Paris is the home to a sadly forgotten Catholic Faith but one that is still seen in some remnants. 

On the morning of March 8th I started my pilgrimage to Paris.  I started at the most quintessential Catholic Church in France: Notre Dame.  Completed in 1345 - nearly 200 years after the groundbreaking - Notre Dame is a beacon of hope to those who pray and work for a restoration of Catholicism in France.  The Cathedral suffered serious damage in the 1790s when - like many French churches - it was desecrated by the French Revolutionaries.  Thankfully, an extensive restoration began in 1845 and today the Cathedral holds beautiful art and many treasures including the relic of the Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails that pierced our Lord Jesus Christ.

The altar on which is displayed the Relic of the Crown of Thorns purchased by St. Louis IX for veneration at certain times

After visiting Notre Dame and exploring the city despite the persistent rain, I made my way north and concluded the day with Eucharistic Adoration in Sacré-Cœur, a truly breathtaking Basilica.  Unlike many of the Cathedrals and Basilicas in France, this one is relatively new as it was completed in 1914 and dedicated after WWI.

Sacré-Cœur is a monument which serves as a national penance for the defeat of France in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and the socialist Paris Commune of 1871. Sacré-Cœur serves as an embodiment of conservative moral order, publicly dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Those familiar with French history will know of the desecration of many French churches including the destruction of relics, icons, paintings, and whole buildings in the French Revolution.  In fact, thousands of Catholics were killed for the Faith.  Next to the Pantheon - a church which has been desecrated and to this day still serves as a monument and burial chamber for leading atheistic revolutionaries - is the Church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont.

Inside Saint-Étienne-du-Mont are some of the relics of St. Genevieve which were not destroyed.  I was able to venerate those sacred relics.

Taking advantage of the favorable weather, I traveled across town to Saint Chapelle - the personal chapel which St. Louis IX built to contain the Relic of the Crown of Thorns.  The holy saint spent 100,000 livres to purchase the relics and return it to the hands of a Christian nation.  By contrast, the beautiful chapel cost 40,000 livres to build and glaze.  This served for me a good reflection point - do I do all that I can to bring glory to God?  Do I sacrifice enough?

As I neared the end of my trip to France, I made time for a few additional sites.  One of which was the beautiful Shrine of the Miraculous Medal.  As the Shrine's website relates:
The chapel was built in 1815 and was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1830 it was privileged with the extraordinary events of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to Sister Catherine Labouré that marked it forever.
Heaven came down to earth… Between July and December 1830 Sister Catherine, a young Seminary Sister (novice) of the Daughters of Charity, received the extraordinary favour of conversing with the Virgin Mary on three occasions. In the preceding months Catherine had the privilege of other apparitions. Saint Vincent de Paul showed her his heart. While at prayer in the chapel, Catherine saw, on three successive days, the heart of Saint Vincent in three different colours. The heart first appeared white, the colour of peace; then red, the colour of fire; and then black, an indication of the misfortunes that would come upon France and Paris in particular. Soon afterwards, Catherine saw Christ present in the Eucharistic host. “I saw Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament all the time of my seminary except the times when I doubted.” On June 6, 1830, feast of the Holy Trinity, Christ appeared as a crucified King, stripped of all his adornments. 
July 18, 1830, the eve of the feast of Saint Vincent whom she loved so much and whose heart she had seen overflowing with love, Catherine prayed that, through his intercession, her desire to see the Blessed Virgin would finally be fulfilled. At eleven-thirty at night, she was called by name. A mysterious child was at the foot of her bed and asked her to get up. “The Blessed Virgin is waiting for you.” Catherine dressed and followed the child who was “bringing rays of brightness wherever he passed.” Having arrived in the chapel, St. Catherine stopped near the chair used by the priest in the sanctuary (current location of the statue of Saint Joseph). She then heard a sound “like the rustle of a silk dress.” Her little guide said, “Here is the Blessed Virgin.” She hesitated. But the child repeated in a stronger tone of voice, “Here is the Blessed Virgin.” In a single bound, Catherine was at the feet of the Blessed Virgin, seated on a chair and rested her hands on the knees of the Mother of God. “There, a period of time passed, the sweetest of my life. It would be impossible for me to say what I experienced. The Blessed Virgin told me how I should behave towards my spiritual director and also several other things.” The Blessed Virgin pointed to the altar where the tabernacle was and said, “Come to the foot of this altar. Here, graces will be spread over all who ask for them with confidence and fervour.” A difficult mission was announced as well as a request for the establishment of a Confraternity of the Children of Mary. Father Aladel would accomplish this request on February 2, 1840. 
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The Body of St. Luisa of Marillac.  She was the co-founder, with Saint Vincent de Paul, of the Daughters of Charity.

And at last, my final stop was the Shrine of St. Vincent de Paul which is located just blocks from the Miraculous Medal Chapel.  There I was able to venerate and pray before his body.  It was an experience that will remain with me for the rest of my life!  

St. Vincent's body was exhumed in 1712, 53 years after his death. The written account of an eyewitness states that "the eyes and nose alone showed some decay". However, when it was exhumed again during the canonization in 1737, it was found to have decomposed due to an underground flood. His bones have been encased in a waxen figure which is displayed in a glass reliquary in the chapel of the headquarters of the Vincentian fathers in Paris. His heart is still incorrupt and is displayed in a reliquary in the chapel of the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Paris

Thank you for all of your prayers as I made this pilgrimage in Europe.  I prayed for the intention of all of my readers and benefactors.  And I continue to hold them in my prayers.

1 comment(s):

del_button April 3, 2018 at 1:29 PM
CatholicTraveguide.com said...

What a great post...thanks so much.

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