I’m finally getting a chance to blog from our parish pilgrimage to France. As usual, we hit the ground running, with a hectic two days in Paris. The first morning we celebrated Mass at the Basilica of Sacre Coeur before taking a bus tour of Paris. On day two we celebrated Mass at the shrine of St Catherine Laboure at the Rue de Bac, then visited the shrine of St Vincent de Paul which is just around the corner.

There is a great spirit of joy and fellowship on the pilgrimage–which is something I have experienced on all our pilgrimages. The afternoon and evening of the second day we had free time in Paris and enjoyed visiting St Chapelle, seeing the shell of burnt out Notre Dame Cathedral, saw some artwork at the Musee D’Orsay before a walk along the Seine and a night time boat ride up the Seine.

Day three took us on a two hour drive to the abbey of Vezelay followed by another drive to Nevers where we celebrated Mass at the shrine of St Bernadette.

Seeing the incorrupt bodies of St Catherine Laboure and St Bernadette suddenly helped me to understand why these two women saints’ bodies remained incorrupt. I believe there is a real link to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Think about it for a moment: St Catherine Laboure is a simple girl who goes into the convent to serve the poor. As such she is an image of the blessed Virgin Mary whose magnificat lifts up the poor and humble. In 1830 She experiences an apparition of the Blessed Virgin and the main message is, “Virgin Conceived without sin, pray for us and all who have recourse to thee.” The sign given is the miraculous medal.

So the overall message is the Immaculate Conception and the reality of miracles. Twenty four years later Pope Pius IX defines and promulgates the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Four years after that Bernadette experiences her apparitions at Lourdes at which the Virgin says, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” She then joins the Sister of Charity in Nevers to serve the poor and aged.

Both saints are incorrupt and by this miracle they affirm miracles, but they also affirm the Immaculate Conception by this sign. One of the effects of the Immaculate Conception was that Mary did not suffer the effects of original sin–one of which is physical corruption. She was assumed into heaven, but her daughters–Catherine Laboure and Bernadette experienced the incorruptibility of their physical bodies as a continued sign to this miracle from heaven–the Immaculate Conception.

What a joy it is to discover these connections and see how the hand of providence works in the lives of individuals who yield their lives to him. What a joy it is to discover these individuals who reveal that God still exalts the humble and meek–that he still uses simple peasant girls to accomplish his will in the world.

And isn’t that exactly what our Blessed Mother was at first? She was a humble peasant girl–a nobody. But God used her as part of his plan for the redemption of the world.

Today we visited the cathedral of Autun and then drove down to Paray le Monial where we had the chance to venerate the relics of St Margaret Mary Alacoque and St Claude de la Columbiere and learn more about the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I hope to blog more about this tomorrow.

Tomorrow we journey to the great abbey of St Benoit sur Loire where we will venerate the relics of St Benedict–they on to Chartres where we will tour the cathedral and celebrate Mass.

Readers of this blog…consider investing in a pilgrimage tour to the holy places. They are such a great source of blessings! Next year’s toour is a pilgrimage cruise to Rome, the Holy Land and the cities of St Paul. Why not plan to join us? Go here for more information.

PS: Follow me on Instagram for pictures from our France Pilgrimage