Seminarian for the Diocese of Madison
1. European kids are something else. There was an interesting encounter on our pre-Rome experience. T’was in Lourdes, France, which was also our first encounter with the Gypsies. Near our hotel right on the way to the Shrine was a street with a few outdoor vendors and more than a few Gypsies. One of our company was moved to buy one of the Gypsy children a crepe, which is a wonderful thing. When he turned to give the crepe order to the vendor all the kids on that street got in line to get a treat. Of course, they were all fed that day.
2. Lourdes has many devotional places for every popular devotion. Particularly notable are the Stations of the Cross on the hill next to the Basilica. Besides having gilded, life-sized statues the use of natural surroundings helps to bring anyone on the way into the final hours of Christ’s life. Always you walk up through each station until the crest of the hill when all three stations of Jesus on the cross break into view. Then for the final Station, when Jesus is buried, they use a natural cave on the side of the hill which is underneath the crucifixion scene.
3. Torreciudad is a spot of mutual devotion for my brother and me. We first came there two years ago to prepare ourselves along with other pilgrims for the Camino de Santiago and World Youth Day. Torreciudad is an old shrine from the first days of the Reconquista in Spain. When the crusaders retook the tower of the city they put a statue of Mary in it to dedicate their victory to her. From the eleventh century on pilgrims, including St. Josemaria Escriva’s parents, have gone there to ask for the Virgin of Torreciudad’s intercession. St. Josemaria’s parents consecrated him to the Virgin there and he recovered from a serious illness in his childhood.