June 8: Tom & Sue visit Our Lady of the Afflicted

Bon  Jour:

Well, we are back in France and the trip was tedious with all of the traffic and then all of the AutoVia  (Highway/Tollway) road construction.  I think Susan would have been happier going back to Lekitio again.  Passing lots of trucks in narrow lanes for miles was not fun for her or for moi. At one point, we must have passed a convoy of 100 trucks, They were not allowed in the left lane. Thank  God!

We were in bed last night by 8:30 P.M..  I  think we were both traumatized and I was exhausted after cooking dinner for 2 and a 3rd large glass of wine.  I got up around 6:30 AM and I let Susan sleep after I moved her to the bedroom till about 8AM.  I made a sandwich for the road and got breakfast ready to go for when she awoke. Half a pot  of coffee later I was cleaning the kitchen, taking out the garbage and working  on the computer. This new coffee we bought was real hi-test.

Susan got up and relaxed over a cup of coffee  and our days itinerary.  (And, as Susan reviews to send this email to you  right now, she is saying … “EVERYONE IS GOING TO THINK I AM ONE LAZY  WIFE/TRAVELER BECAUSE TOM SEEMS TO BE DOING ALL OF THE WORK!!!! … I’M IN  TROUBLE  NOW!)

We would have to leave soon to visit our first shrine … Our Lady of Guadeloupe in Hondarriba, Spain … another mountain shrine for sailors. After yesterday’s Shrine, I figured I should join the Navy first. Susan said from her research  that getting in was iffy if the caretaker wasn’t there so we both  sat down and had more coffee, finally deciding we had enough mountain costal towns for now, so we will leave this for another pilgrimage.  We took our time but finally said goodbye to Rosa  and headed  out.

Arriving at our B&B
Arriving at our B&B

We arrived in Gans, France at our next B&B and were met by one of the two owners, Jackie.  The B&B has been owned by Jackie’s Parents and their family  for years.  Nowadays, Jackie and his Mom, Jacquelyn, run the B&B with the help of their staff. He was born in Bordeaux, raised in Martinique and spent  holidays in Nantucket, CT during his lifetime.  He and his Mom own this lovely home and he was very gracious and showed us the residence that all the guests were able to use.

Our room was very quaint and extremely comfortable … it was a bedroom in their home  and had our bed, small TV and a couple small night stands, plus a bathroom of course and the rest of the house … the kitchen, breakfast room, dining salon, Parlor, living room, patio, pool area, etc., etc..  He gave us our key and we put a few things in the room and headed out for
Verdelaise and  Our Lady of the Afflicted.

We were  going to meet Father Robert there and he was going to show us
around and tell us  of the background of the  Shrine.

Father Robert met us outside the Basilica
Father Robert met us outside the Basilica

We  were  20 minutes late and as we approached the Basilica there was a man standing outside. He wasn’t dressed as a priest but it had to be him and I told  Susan we were going to get scolded for being late (only joking,Father).   It didn’t happen,

Father Robert was a very gentle man and hugged Susan as soon as they said  hello.  (We do have to interject right here that Father reminded us so  very, very much of our dear friend, Father Tim O’Toole (a/k/a “TOT) … in his peacefulness, kindness, warmth and everything else).  I got a warm handshake and greeting too.  He took us into the courtyard and sat as he told us about the Shrine and the history of the town. 

A close look at the statue of Our Lady of the Afflicted
A close look at the statue of Our Lady of the Afflicted

He then took us into the Basilica with wonderful further explanations on the background of the Shrine.  Father Robert was going to leave us to Pray at the Shrine and, hopefully, walk the Way of the Cross up to the top of the hilltop.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it up the hill with my bad knee, but I was going to give it a valiant effort.

We agreed that Father Robert would meet us back at the Basilica at 4:30 P.M. and then  would walk down the street to share a glass of wine and then go to the  Rosary and attend the Evening  Mass.

We lit a candle for all your prayer intentions
We lit a candle for all your prayer intentions

We spent  some time in the Basilica praying for your intentions, lit a  candle and Susan put your intentions in the box provided. 

We walked  out to go across the street to the Stations of the Cross that wound up the hill  and I realized I couldn’t make it, my knee and leg were really bothering me today.  We went back to the car to get a pill and I realized that they  were in the bag we left at Jackie’s (our B&B for the night).

We decided that I needed a pill and went back with the intention of returning for the  Rosary and Mass. I tried to let Father know but couldn’t get thru to him on the  phone, so I took a pill and relaxed on the lounge chair.  I would have been fine, except Jackie made us a tropical coconut drink and we couldn’t say  no.  I woke up late for everything.  Susan sent Father an apology and  I’m sure he would  understand.

The  evening was great at Jackie’s and Jacquline’s (we call her mom).  We
were  in the living room on the computers but didn’t get much done as we laughed and told stories to each other for a long time.  Mom sat, and her English was great, even though she didn’t think so.  This family is very Catholic and we  shared many things that had happened throughout our all our lives. They  have a great love for St. John Paul II, just as we do.  We were going to tell them about Krakow but decided to wait and get a few things done first, but  ended up telling them anyway and then the photos came out and we shut off the computers.

When they  fed the other people that were staying at the house Susan and I
went out to the patio to have our sandwich I had made and Jackie brought us a nice bottle of wine.  He sat with us and more stories flowed  especially about his dad and the army and his life in Conn. during the summers he stayed there and his encounters with women when he was young.  Our faces hurt we laughed so hard and mom would come out now and then and confirm his stories and we would laugh again.

Jackie and Jaqueline
Jackie and Jaqueline

We had  eaten but mom brought out a small piece of steak and little salad for each of us  and then some cake.  It was too good to pass up, so we had a second  meal.  We will diet tomorrow.  It was 10:45 and mom and their cook had sat down for dinner and we forced Jackie in to eat or we would have been out  there all night. 

We all hugged and said good night and Susan and I went to our room feeling like we were again at home with our wonderful new  friends.

Susan was  asleep in less than 5 minutes and I think I was right behind her.  (It was  special this morning when Susan told me that she had awoken at Jackie &  Jacquoelen’s in our room for the night and she woke up feeling that she was in  the bedroom we always stayed in at my Mom and Dad’s in Danbury, Connecticut.  That was always a very special bedroom for us and, perhaps, the love and memories of the love and memories of this family brought us “back  in time” … thank you for that  experience.

Au  Revoir

Click here for more information about Verdelaise and Our Lady of the Afflicted.

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