August 13 – LA SALETTE AND LOURDES
LA SALETTE AND LOURDES
La Salette, a place of the Virgin Mary’s apparition in the French Alps in 1846 had nourished the Brothers’ piety quite early.
The first gesture of Br. Bernard on arrival at Poitiers on 15 October 1856, with Br. Anselme and his group of sixteen deaf and dumb transferred from Loudun, was to buy a souvenir of La Salette representing Mary and the two visionaries and first to enter with statue in hand the new Institution to which he would give the name of Notre-Dame de la Salette House.
On 22 September 1857, a monument with La Salette enthroned on an artificial mound was inaugurated on the grounds of St Gabriel’s at Saint-Laurent during a very . colourful procession with preaching by Fr. Galliot smm, an apostle of La Salette.
Thereafter, the pupils of the boarding-school, on the eve of their departure for their summer holidays, would come each year to sing the adieux song prolonged into the night by a moving silence.
Br. Simeon, come the first time in Provence in 1854, was disappointed for not being able to climb up to La Salette in the Alps because of the snow. He chose again 13 August 1859 and even wanted to climb the long route on foot up to the shrine. He declared having been immersed in grace during the two days spent with the “Virgin who weeps”.
Lourdes would little by little replace La Salette. The first three Superiors General have gone there: Br. Eugene-Marie to ask for a cure .in June 1870 in the company of Br. Jeremie, Assistant; Bros. Augustin and Simeon in 1872 with a Lu on diocesan group. Several Brothers, pilgrims, stretcher-bearers, and the sick would follow their traces.
In 1888, a contractor from Nantes reproduced the Lourdes grotto on the banks of the Sevre at Saint-Laurent. The swing was set in motion. Statues of Our; Lady of Lourdes would multiply in St Gabriel’s properties: at Tindivanam in India; at St Gabriel’s in Bangkok on 7 November 1933; at Sault-au-Recollet (Montreal) in 1940; at Sriracha on 8 December 1952; at Brazzaville, at Boistissandeau, etc. The construction of the grotto of Lourdes at the Provincial House in Montreal deserves mention. Decided in 1940 by Br. Emmanuel, Provincial, it was entrusted to Br. Donat who got a team of free workers, Brothers and lay people, and succeeded with the help of a crane, hoists and pulleys to form a huge arch of 551 stone blocks, of which each got the name of its protector: Montfort, St Ann, etc.
It was in 1961 that the Brothers corporately participated for the first time in the Montfortian pilgrimage to Lourdes (See 27 April). Three years earlier in August 1958, for the centenary feast of the apparitions, five students from Bangkok had gone to Lourdes as representatives for all the schools of the Brothers.