A Saint on Pilgrimage

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Yesterday I read an account of Saint Peter Julian Eymard’s pilgrimage to the shrine of Notre Dame du Laus (pronounced Loh) in 1865. The shrine, which now attracts some 120,000 pilgrims each year, was the scene of a Solemn Mass last May 4th during which His Excellency, Monseigneur Jean-Michel di Falco Léandri, bishop of the diocese of Gap, officially recognized the supernatural character of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Benoîte Rencurel (1647–1718), a Dominican tertiary.

Saint Peter Julian Eymard Invokes Benoîte Rencurel

Saint Peter Julian went to Notre-Dame-du-Laus to obtain the healing of his sister, who was gravely ill. At Laus, the saint asked for blessed oil. Returning to his sister, who was suffering from incessant vomiting and perspiration, he knelt down at the foot of her bed, and said, “My sister, we are going to begin a novena.” Then he anointed her stomach with the oil. Making the Sign of the Cross, Saint Peter Julian invoked Benoîte Rencurel, saying, “Soeur Benoîte of Laus, intercede with the Blessed Virgin for me. That same evening his sister’s vomiting and perspiration ceased completely. From that moment she improved day by day until her health was completely restored. The following year Saint Peter Julian Eymard returned to Notre Dame du-Laus on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving.

Caro Cardo Salutis

The physical elements of this brief account are striking: a pilgrimage to the site of an apparition of the Blessed Virgin, the use of blessed oil, recourse to a novena, the Sign of the Cross, the pious anointing, the invocation of Benoîte Rencurel, and the pilgrimage of thanksgiving. It is all splendidly Catholic. Tertullian said it long ago: “The flesh is the hinge of salvation.”

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