Saturday, 20 October 2012

Two more special places

Still recounting our summer holiday break in Spain and then by car back to the UK via France, there are still two places which need a mention. Both are special to our family. The first, as we had stopped for 3 days in the Loire Valley, is Tours and its tomb of Saint Martin, after whom our youngest child is named. Martin of Tours lived between 316 and 397. The most famous story tells that while Martin was still a soldier in the Roman army and deployed in Gaul (modern day France), he experienced the vision that became the most-repeated story about his life. One day as he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens he met a  beggar.  He impulsively cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar. That night, Martin dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me."  The dream confirmed Martin in his piety, and he was baptized at the age of 18. He served in the military for another two years until in 336, Martin determined that his faith prohibited him from fighting, saying, "I am a soldier of Christ. I cannot fight." He was charged with cowardice and jailed, but in response to the charge, he volunteered to go unarmed to the front of the troops. His superiors planned to take him up on the offer, but before they could, the invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service

He became a Bishop of Tours whose shrine became a famous stopping-point for pilgrims  on the road to Santiago de Compostela. How could we not stop to pray at the present day basilica, rebuilt following the rediscovery of Martin's tomb in 1860 and consecrated in 1925?
The other place and the last on our summer journey, was Chartres near Paris in France. We had never been here before and yet all of our children have visted this place on numerous occasions. They have come here at the end of the annual Pentecost Pilgrimage from Notre Dame at Paris to Notre Dame at Chartres. It is a gruelling walk spread over 3 days with Mass in the Extraordinary Form each day culminating in a Solemn High Mass in the Cathedral itself. Although older people do take part it is peopled predominantly by the young from all over the world. My husband and I made a conscious decision that we would let our children make this pilgrimage without their parents, so making their faith their own. We are delighted that they have sought to return time after time and we believe it has played a big part in ensuring that they all still practice their faith. However now it was time for us to thank Our Lady of Chartres for guiding and spiritually mothering our children over those years. We were not disappoited! The interior of Chartres Cathedral and especially its wonderful stained glass is a glory to behold. We were blessed with the opportunity to attend Mass there on the Feast of the Assumption. We then had a personal guided tour from a friend of friends and were also able to venerate Our Lady's Veil, worn by her at the Birth of Christ.

Our Lady of Chartres, Pray for us

No comments:

Post a Comment