Saturday, 29 August 2009

Memories of Nevers

It is now a year since my beautiful visit to Nevers, Bernadette's final resting place, and now a place where earthly souls can rest for a little time bathed in peace before returning to the world. I can't really describe the beauty of being able to stay at the convent at Espace Bernadette and being able to be beside her body in the chapel late at night when nobody else was there. During the day I liked to watch children peep in at her with fascination and kneeling pilgrims tilt their head beside her while in a deep kind of conversation of prayer. Yet I also loved it late at night before they closed the chapel, I could simply kneel before her tiny structure and marvel, I could enter into that deep, deep peace that she emanates.

When I started this blog the first thing I wrote about was that trip to Nevers in the dying days of August - a trip that sustained me for the long winter ahead and sustains me still (You can read that post here). I met many of you through that early post because in this world there is a surge of warmth from many when you talk about Bernadette. She is a true spiritual giant. My journey to her was a privilege and in my darkest moments I cling to her words:

"I shall forget no one" 

I have complete faith that this is true whether one is beside that little body or millions of miles away, across oceans and seas.  For, of course, Bernadette is now on the other side of that veil which separates us from those that have gone before us - amidst the communion of saints. 
St Bernadette - pray for us!

I thought I might share some of the happy snapshots from that trip:

Grapes growing in the convent gardens
Beautiful St. Bernadette - awaiting the day when she will wake
The room in which Bernadette died is one where she lived and prayed through the last months of her life, suffering deeply. Her bed, like all the others in the infirmary was covered with a white drape. As she suffered, finally unable to walk she called it her white chapel. The place where her bed stood is now marked by the tabernacle, covered in a symbolic white drape. Words fail the powerful presence of peace in that room. Oh so beautiful! I go there often in prayer.
The spot where Bernadette actually died, sitting up as she struggled to breathe. The floorboards, the fire place, the statue are as they were.  I knelt before them deeply touched by Bernadette's own hidden life of love and prayer.
This is Our Lady of the Waters, a statue which has its place at the back of the convent, hidden behind hedgerow. Bernadette would often steal herself some peace here, away from what was often an extremely difficult life in the convent.  She was not a big fan of statues of Our Lady, she found them beautiful and showed them reverence but was always very aware that they could not reflect the real beauty of what she had seen. Yet she felt that this statue had "something" of the beauty she had seen in the Lady at the grotto.  This is a similar stance to the one the Lady took when she revealed her name to Bernadette: 'The Immaculate Conception"
St Joseph's chapel where Bernadette rested till 1925 is the perfect place to hide away and say your Rosary.  It was here that many early visitors to her burial site were said to have experienced miraculous cures through the intercession of Bernadette.
The front of the convent where Bernadette lived out her vocation, directly through those doors is the main chapel where Bernadette's body now rests.
The actual chair in which Bernadette died.
The clothes Bernadette wore to the convent.
The few possessions Bernadette brought with her from the hospice where she had been living in Lourdes until the age of 22


Anne said...

This is wonderful! Squelly, you have been so blessed to be at this holy place and I love to see how deeply it has affected you and continues to affect you. Thank you so much for sharing this!

Andrea said...

Beautiful and peaceful pictures. Blessings and prayers, andrea

~Joseph the Worker said...

St. wife and I were just talking today about how so many of the female Catholic saints are so beautiful. Her incorrupt body is amazing and a real testament to our Faith.

SQUELLY said...

Thanks to you all! I was so blessed to be there and was touched very deeply, as I always am, by Bernadette's deep witness in her life and death. I love sharing a little of what I saw there - thank you all for sharing with me :-)

Jospeh- great coincidence! I went to see St Catherine Laboure this summer too - her body is incorrupt and her face is so happy and beautiful - she is not far from where Bernadette is and the two of them died within three years of each other. Beautiful testament!

Lisa said...

Our dear St. Bernadette. It seems just like yesterday that you posted about this glorious trip! How time flies! But, how wonderful that you have these experiences, Squelly. I'm so glad you share them with us!

SQUELLY said...

I know- it has gone so fast! I am so glad to share it though (again) - blogging is such a gift in that respect. Thank you for sharing!

Veritas said...

A spiritual giant indeed - and yet so small throughout life.
I'm really glad to read this and see the photos - thanks for sharing them.
There is a warmth and a closeness that seems to eminate fron knowledge and devotion to St Bernadette.

SQUELLY said...

There is such warmth - thank you for so much for sharing in it!

Becca said...

Thank you for sharing all these beautiful pictures! St. Bernadette is my patron saint and it means so much to me!!!
God bless,

SQUELLY said...

You are so welcome! What a wonderful patron to have! Thanks for your comment and do pop back since I so love to post reams about her! :-) God bless,



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