Bible does not give an account of Mary’s birth. However, the apocryphalProtoevangelium of Jamesfills in the gap. It reflects the development of Christian piety. According to this account, Anna and Joachim are infertile but pray for a child. They receive the promise of a child who will advance God’s plan of salvation for the world. Such a story, like many biblical counterparts, stresses the special presence of God in Mary’s life from the beginning.
Saint Augustine connects Mary’s birth with Jesus’ saving work. He tells the earth to rejoice and shine forth in the light of her birth. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley. Through her birth the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.”(1)
We hired a private bus as we traversed by land visiting different parts/countries of Europe. The view was spectacular, passing through Pyrenees mountain range, a natural border between France and Spain. And I just couldn’t take my eyes off during that 8 hour drive. Ofcourse we have to make a few stops along the road. It’s like watching scenes from Lord of the Rings with larger than life majestic landscapes.
Our private bus is spacious. We were about 23 (all family-yes!) and the bus has more than 40 seater capacity. Plus our tour guide was very nice. He’s a French married to a Filipina and they own a travel agency which is based in Manila. End result – one noisy and happy bus!
In every roadtrip the memories we make may last momentarily. But because of some technological advancements I can now carry either iphone or smartphone with me (or even better – both). I find it difficult though to photograph roadside attractions during sudden turns and stops. so apologies for my blurry images 🙂 still a rookie.
For me a great road trip is about the journey, and as important as the destination. So having a big pile of photos and editing them afterwards helps me a lot in telling my roadtrip story. A story – consist of laughters, endless chatting, occasional napping, humming with fave music, and fathomless munching on snacks and chocolates. I hope you had fun reading this post, till next time 🙂 – mitch more photos…
You’ll see this cross as you enter the sanctuary. It’s considered to be the holiest site in Lourdes, France. Before, We thought of owning an apartment and even considered hiring a keeper to stay there. Though one helpful and local tour guide told us not to, because of taxes and high fees for maintenance,etc. Lourdes has become a favorite place of mine, last year we stayed for 4 days and I went to the chapel daily. Prayed and drank in the sacred spring that welled up for the first time during the apparition of Mama Mary to St. Bernadette. The water was cold but it didn’t feel uncomfortably cold and chilly. Going back to the church, it was designed by Myroslav Nimciv, while its Byzantine interior polychrome decorations were executed by artist Jerzy Nowosielski. A beautiful statue of Mama Mary is standing right in the middle & facing the main basilica.
Her blue sash seemed to be swaying gracefully with the wind. And an intricate crown of gold-embroidered her head and perpetual face. The sanctuary is about 50 hectares with 22 places of worships, includes the sacred grotto, two main basilicas (photo of entrance seen below), and an assortment of chapels for the sick and pilgrim goers like me. Roman Catholic faith is alive in Lourdes, I remember hearing Holy Masses in different languages like English, Spanish and Italian. One morning when I went alone to pray, I was mistaken to be an Italian and asked me to take photos of her group with the church as their background. Delighted and feeling helpful, I agreed and then went on to pray in the grotto.
The rest of the places in Lourdes will be featured on my next posts, and hopefully I’ll have time to post more pictures as well. Much said about this quaint town, I heard it is second to Paris in terms of tourism and number of hotels. Most of my happy memories were also from this place, I was solely raised by my grandmother with strict values and traditions and visiting Lourdes is very sacred to me. I’m planning to bring her here someday, if she is able to travel, God willing.
Year 2011 when I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis and ovarian cysts, a condition that made it crucial for me to conceive again. I had Laparoscopic procedures to treat and remove some of it, but endometriosis in my uterus remain intact upto this day, this is one of the many difficult struggles we have to face. But it has made my faith deeper and magnified, so when we went to visit Lourdes last May I was more emotional than our previous pilgrims. I looked at the other hopefuls, some were more ill than I am, and in their stretchers and/or wheelchairs. I know we’re all present to experience the miracle, that one day we will be healed with our faith. Tearful yet happy, the joy this place brings, never fails to remind me of God’s wonderful grace and love. – mitch