A visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Orcival in France….by Tom & Sue

Bon Soir (again), from France …

Well, having slept almost 11 hours, I woke up early and, as Susan continued  to sleep, I got on the computer … absolutely determined to find  Notre Dame Du Port in Clermont!  I plugged in the hot water kettle in the  hotel room so that we could have tea or instant coffee before we left (another  snag … it didn’t work!).  When Susan awoke, we decided to just shower,  pack up and leave.  We didn’t want breakfast because we were looking  forward to meeting our Cathedral friends from home (who also live in France  for 1/2 year) for lunch.
As we made our way to check out of the hotel and re-load the car, I did  mention at the front desk our problems with the Internet, E-Mail and inability to have tea of instant coffee … the associate told me to go into the cafeteria and fill our traveling mug with coffee.  So I did!  It  took 6 Espressos, 2 Cappuccinos and a Cafe Ouelette.  Boy were we “wired” after drinking that mug of coffee.
As we left the hotel, I informed Susan that I was determined to go back  downtown in Clermont to find Notre Dame Du Port.  Having found the exact  street it was on while “Googling” the Shrine, the “Queen GPS” took us as close to the Shrine as she could.  There was no parking in sight, so I drove on further and we ended up parking in the exact same lot and parking space that we had been in the day before.  Our search of “Our Lady” was over … it  was a short 5 minutes away and we were right there in front.
Very happy and “mission accomplished”, we were both happy that we had pursued our efforts to visit this Shrine to Our Lady.  We entered the Church and knew that we were on limited time so we headed to the Sacred Crypt.  It was beautiful and filled with spirituality and  tranquility.  As we had intended, we Prayed our Prayers for your Special  Intentions and lit a Candle on your behalf … there was not a Prayer  Intention Book to enter names …but be assured that “Our Lady” heard the  requests!

We knew we had to leave Clermont-Ferrand so that we could get to our  meeting up with Bridgett & Richard (Our Palm Beach Cathedral Friends) at  their home in France for Mass and lunch … in Orcival and the Shrine of Our  Lady of Orcival  it was about a 1/2 hour drive and we were meeting up at  10:00 A.M.

You can tell we are not used to this chilly weather
You can tell we are not used to this chilly weather

We entered the Shrine parking lot almost on time and, when we were parking, Bridgett & Richard were just about walking in front of our car and Susan jumped out to beckon to them.  Once we saw them, we could tell  that they are from Florida (at least part of the year).  They were laden with heavy coats and sweaters … I think more than we even had on!  The four of us greeted, hugged and laughed together … so happy that our plans to  meet up had come to reality … it was GREAT!
After a lot of greetings, we decided to have a cup of coffee together and then head up to the mountain Shrine before Mass.  We all entered a small cafe and the conversations continued.  Then it was on to walk The Way of  the Cross from the Shrine up to visit the small Shrine and the Statue of Notre Dame d’Orcival which Bridgett & Richard had seen processed up the mountain about a week ago for the summer months.

The climb along the stations of the cross in Orcival, France
The climb along the stations of the cross

This was the first “climb” Susan and I had attempted since our arrival… and since our last pilgrimage about 1-1/2 years ago … it wasn’t “very  pretty”! There were a lot of “ouches”, Ooooohs, Ahhhhhhs and stopping to catch our breaths and ease the burning pains in our legs.  Richard,  however, was just fine as he proceeded like a “mountain goat” … always far  ahead of the three of us and urging us on.  Without him, we probably  would have turned around.
We arrived, safely, at the summit and Richard & Bridgette said that they didn’t think that the Statue at the Mountain Shrine was the same that had been processed up about a week ago.  Richard moved on to see if the pilgrimage road went even further but it didn’t.  We all talked about trying to go further into the mountain walk to see if we could find “Her”, but we knew that there was a Pilgrimage Mass that was supposed to begin around  11:30 A.M., so we had to begin our climb back down the mountain.

Luckily, when we reached the Shrine of Notre Dame d’Orcival, there was a Pilgrimage Bus from Southern France accompanied by a young French Priest who was going to Celebrate Mass at 11:30 A.M. for his group.  The four of us entered the Church.  Richard saw the new “Cure” (Priest) of the Parish who had recently been assigned and he introduced us to him. Susan had  already “somewhat” had met him when she had e-mailed to find our Mass times  some time ago before our trip.  It was a pleasure to meet him and, through Richard’s interpretations, it appeared that Father did not know about  some of the Shrines we are planning to visit on this pilgrimage.  We bid  farewell to Father and, because Mass was not yet ready to begin,the four of us  decided to go down below and explore the Crypt.

Down below the Church and in the Crypt, there were some very unusual statues and vessels (see photos).  It was beautiful but time to get back upstairs in preparation for Mass. 

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