Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Tour de France and Spain

We arrived in Lourdes France after going through the epic bike race as well as a hail storm. Other than that, smoothing sailing. We paid our respects to our Lady that evening and then retired outside of town at a little local hotel.

Our Blessed Mother appeared to the little girl Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 and asked that a chapel be built here so that pilgrims can come and venerate her. Thanks St. Bernadette. 

Our Lady appeared to her on various occasions and told her to dig in the sand, which revealed a spring that has brought about miraculous healings ever since. Bernadette also asked the Lady, whom at the time she didn't know that it was Mary, what her name was. To which the Lady replied, I am the Immaculate Conception. This says much. But at that time especially because just prior to this, in 1854, Pope Pius IX had officially declared the dogma of Mary's Immaculate Conception. This was a confirmation to the truth of this doctrine that many skeptics held at the time.

The next morning we had French crapes before we ventured back onto this holy ground.

I hope our Blessed Mother is pleased with this church that now gathers pilgrims from all over the world.

We were blessed to reserve a small chapel inside to celebrate Mass. This was the pinnacle moment of our entire pilgrimage. I was praying in advance that Mary would show me what more I can do in the realms of evangelization. She simple said, just celebrate the Mass.

Before we departed we prayed a Rosary at the Grotto, entrusting our lives to Mary, the Immaculate Conception and our Mother.

The next stop was Loyola to walk in the footsteps of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits). The Lord provided us a room at a local convent near his birth place. Turns out the boys' grandmother lived here for a sort time as a young woman.

Loyola Spain is the hometown of St. Ignatius. This basilica is built around the house he grew up in. As providence would again have it, this is the 500 anniversary of his conversion. 

The chapel is of 16th century baroque architecture. Loud and proud.

He was of noble descent and the home is still largely intact.

A knight of great valor in his youth, Ignatius was hit with shrapnel from a canon ball in battle. Back home where he was recovering in this room, he asked for some books on chivalry. Not having them, they gave him a book on the lives of the saints. This is where his eyes were opened just a little. He noticed that when he thought about chivalry he got fired up, but soon after his heart was left empty. When he thought about living a noble life like the saints and fighting for the Kingdom of God, he got fired up AND his heart remained at peace long after. Thus began his discernment of spirits, where he learned to follow the voice of God in his heart.

Once we left Loyola we stopped by Pamplona where we was injured in battle.

Pamplona is also the home of the running with the bulls, which is held this very week. As providence would have it again, it was canceled this year to keep Kurt and I out of temptation.

Here we stopped for lunch to enjoy some Spanish bovine and vino. 

The final stop was at the Cave of St. Ignatius in Manresa. He spent about 11 months coming here to pray. These rocks are where the Spiritual Exercises were composed.

Mission accomplished. Now we can just have fun. We are back in Barcelona and plan to just hangout and live as Spaniards for the next couple days.

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Mother of the Church

 Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us!