Sunday, March 16, 2008

Exploring Lisieux

Full day ahead today. Bishop was in pain today---he could barely walk, needing a wheelchair to go places. While he was in his room for breakfast, Mom and I took a short walk to the old cathedral that *should* have been St Therese's parish church (it is now City Hall, I think). We were almost to the steps of the church when it started to rain. Mom said to go back since she didn't want to get lost (it was less than 5 minutes away!) and that she didn't want to be late for when the sisters would be driving us to the Basilica for mass.

{The Basilique}

A sight to behold. We were there right at 9 am, when it opened. I guess Sr Monique's car has a special sticker on it, because we drove practically to the front door! Inside, there were barely any people inside, it was so quiet. And COLD. We went straight to the relics that were kept there---it was from the bone of her arm, encased in glass so everyone could see. I'm hoping the photo I took came out alright!

After a few minutes of veneration, we all sat in the middle of the basilica and Sr Blandine began her spiel. She pretty much explained in great detail all the nooks and crannies of the basilica. The interpretations, the mosaic tiles, the images, everything! It was so much to take in at once, but I'm hoping my memory will serve me well as I look at the photos and put them in an album!

We barely had time to look at souvenirs at the shop when we had to troop down into the crypt for Sunday mass. Bishop was taken earlier to the rectory, as he would be one of the priests during mass.

{The Crypt}

Another sight to behold. It was a little bit newer in design, with the mosaic tiles being nice and clean. And gilded with gold. Just beautiful! For a crypt, it was immense---it could easily hold 800 people! And for this Palm Sunday, it was filled to capacity! Msgr Lagoutte had reserved a place for us in the FRONT. Sigh! Hehehe. He introduced us at the beginning of mass to everyone, along with Bishop and some young kids on pilgrimage.

After mass, the Philippine Ambassador to France was there, along with his wife. Ambassador and Mrs Zaide were on their way to Mont St Michel that morning but decided to go to mass instead when it started to rain. So we took some pictures and chatted a bit, and Msgr Lagoutte invited them back to Maison St Jean for lunch.

{A Stop at the Monastery}

Since Bishop was still asleep from his meds, Mom and I acted as sort of emissaries as we went to visit the lone Filipina in the Carmelite Monastery. Sr Therezhina had arrived a month ago (and had missed the arrival of the Relics in Cebu since her Mother Superior told her that Sr Therese was already calling her to go to France). So she was just catching up on what was going on, she asked us who we were, she told us who she was. Seemed the poor girl was a little bit homesick, which was totally understandable, as she couldn't help but shed a few tears :) But she was happy and content to be where she was, and she looked forward to learning more about St Therese as she learned French as well.

{Les Buissonnets}

The house where Therese and her family lived in Lisieux, after her mother died in Alencon. It is a small house and wonderfully preserved. Most is still intact, and even original furniture and some clock pieces by Louis Martin, a watchmaker, are still there. The original fireplace where the conversion took place, Celine's painting of the family, home, Therese's First Holy Communion garment.....all still there. And yes, I took photos, lots and lots of them!

{Tombs of St Therese's Parents}

We drove back to the back of the Basilicia because Sr Monique remembered that we had not visited the tombs of Louis and Zelie Martin, whom the Pope had declared Venerable in 1994. This is probably the last time that we would get a chance to have our photos taken with Msr and Mme Martin here at the Basilica before they will be declared Blessed....and their bodies consequently exhumed for Relic-preparation.

{Cathedral of St Peter}

This was where Therese and her family went to church. We saw the small chapel that Louis Martin had purchased so that his family could be closer to the altar during mass. We saw the place where Therese had her first confession and where she took her Holy Communion for the last time before entering the Carmelite Monastery. We rushed through the place a bit because it was FREEZING cold!!!

Yesterday, the weather was a "balmy" 15 degrees. Today, it was 8 degrees!!!! Aaaack!


For dinner, we went next door to the Ermitage Center, a place for missionaries to come together to do their work. Msgr Lagoutte was also involved here, and it is obvious that he loves working with young people. The sisters and brothers came from different parts of the world; there were even some from Vietnam! They prepared dinner for us (yummy spinach in a flaky pot pie of some sort) and then did a presentation for us, including some English songs :). The most beautiful parts of the presentation I think were when they sang songs from Fr Patrick's compositions dedicated to St Therese.

Msgr Lagoutte asked Mom to say some words about how St Therese was received in the Philippines, he showed everyone the calendars, fans, etc that we had brought, and have gave mom a book, Fr Patrick's CD, some commemorative coin and some other stuff as a thank you for helping spread the word about St Therese.

And that was a FUN end to a full day! :)


No comments: