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In Santiago de Compostela for the Feast of the "Big Flower"

 

October 15th, 2015 two pilgrims arrived in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Granted, Cyndee, a work colleague and I did not walk with pilgrims who yearly make the famous “Way of Santiago de Compostela” or “El Camino”, but this was indeed a “pilgrimage” to us. 

Cyndee from Atlanta, and I from California, came to Compostela by way of Fatima, Portugal where, a couple of days before, we helped deliver 14,108 red roses and more than 6,000 white roses to the Fatima Shrine in the name of a multitude of ANF Rosary Rally Captains and supporters.

Famous statue of Saint James the Apostle behind the main altar in the Santiago CathedralIt was a dream of Cyndee’s to make the “Camino”, and I had long heard of the famous shrine and burial place of the great apostle of Spain, Saint James the Greater.

One of the first twelve apostles, St. James was martyred in Jerusalem in 44 A.D., and his body was immediately translated back to Spain, where he had preached the Gospel of his Divine Master.

History having erased the memory of the place of the saint’s burial, in 813 a shepherd boy saw a star that guided him to his tomb; hence “Compostela” or “Field of the Star”.

A cathedral was erected over the place where the apostle’s body was discovered.

So here we were, two non-Spanish-speaking-just-arrived-by-bus pilgrims handing the taxi driver a slip of paper with the address to San Martino Pinario Hotel. He smiled understandingly and we were off.

San Martino turned out to be a sixteenth century stone building, more like a monastery with a dining area, lounge and patio-garden – bonus: directly across from the Cathedral of Santiago or St. James.

 

An image of a simple room in the hotel, and another of the Santiago Cathedral interior

While in the taxi, I noticed teenagers walking along the streets in band uniforms. Once in my room, looking out of my ancient stone-recessed window, I saw them again, but now heard canon volleys and fireworks. I needed to find out what was going on.

Local band leading the procession from Santiago Cathedral to the Carmelite Convent

Walking outside, we watched a procession of altar servers emerge from the cathedral holding aloft a float with a beautiful statue of Saint Teresa of Avila. I joined the procession, which wound through the cobbled streets for forty minutes to the prayerful cadence of the Rosary.

I finally discovered we were headed for the Carmelite Convent where the “Big Flower”, as the Spaniards lovingly call their Teresa, was crowned in honor of her 500th anniversary which was being celebrated on her feast day that very day and hour (October 15, 2015).

Statue of Saint Teresa of Avila carried through the streets of Santiago of Compostela

Did I feel like a pilgrim now....You bet! And so privileged to have “crashed” such an auspicious celebration! It felt like a special blessing after so many that week.

The famous incensor or thurible called "Botafumeiro" The next day, at 7:30 pm, was the Pilgrims’ Mass where the famous incensor or thurible called “Botafumeiro” (Flame Thrower) is used. This was a sight to behold!

Six men dressed in rich maroon cloaks worked in unison to swing the huge thurible so high that it almost touched the soaring ceiling of the cathedral as it delivered clouds of incense.

In Compostela, we met many people from all over the world from Denmark to New Zealand, from America to Africa. They all had come to walk or bicycle the “Camino”.

There were priests, religious, couples, singles, some Catholic, some not, but all there for the same reason: looking for God.

All to whom we spoke, commented on the uplifting, spiritual experience they had while walking the Way of St. James of Compostela.

Though physically hard, the walk was an experience that brought them closer to God and gave them a better understanding of self.

For us, pilgrims hailing from California/Atlanta/Fatima, it was also an unforgettable experience. And considering we had just been to Fatima to deliver thousands of roses to Our Lady, arriving for the celebration of the “Big Flower” felt like a not-so-far-fetched bonus blessing.

 

Click here for St. Teresa of Avila's Prayer for the Church in Need! 

 


By Lora Lucas-Bailie with Andrea Phillips

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 21, 2019

Make friends with the angels, who though invisible are alway...

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November 21

 

Make friends with the angels, who though
invisible are always with you.
Often invoke them,
constantly praise them, and make good use
of their help and assistance
in all your
temporal and spiritual affairs.


St. Francis de Sales


DEFEND Our Lady's HONOR !

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple

Mary asked if she might have the honor to be the servant of...

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The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple

On the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, we celebrate the fact that Our Lady’s parents brought her to the Temple at the age of three and handed her over to live there for a long period as a consecrated virgin where she might exclusively contemplate God.

There is a special beauty to this feast since it highlights the fact that Our Lady was chosen even before time began. She is called the root of Jesse (Isaiah, 11:1) from which Our Lord Jesus Christ would be born. She is introduced to the synagogue, the institution in charge of keeping this promise. Thus, the synagogue receives Our Lady as a first step. In this act, the hopes of ages would soon be fulfilled.

Our Lady, a supremely holy soul, is received in the Temple and entered into the service of God. Despite the corruption of the nation of Israel and the transformation of the Temple into a den of the Pharisees, an incomparable light appeared: the sanctity of Our Lady.

Unknowingly, Our Lady began to prepare herself to become the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In an atmosphere of grace in the Temple, she was set apart from everyone in order to serve God. She increased her love of God until she formed the ardent desire for the imminent coming of the Messiah and asked God if she might have the honor to be the servant of His Mother. She did not know that she was the one chosen for this honor. That is why she was perplexed when the Archangel Gabriel greeted her to ask her permission for the Incarnation.

Our Lady’s magnificent preparation to be the Mother of Jesus Christ began with her Presentation in the Temple, a feast the Church celebrates on November 21. It is fitting that we ask Our Lady to prepare us with the best of Catholic doctrine to serve God by serving her. We should present ourselves before Our Lady, asking her to assist us in taking up the task of our sanctification, as the Holy Ghost did with her in the Temple of Jerusalem.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

Click here to Order your free Miraculous Medal and Novena

Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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