Saturday, August 4, 2007

St John Vianney

He is the patron saint of parish priests. Don Marco has a beautiful post about St John Vianney and his incendiary preaching. I will never forget our brief visit to Ars in September 1999, when my husband and I decided to rent a car in Toulouse and drive up the east side of France to Paris. We motored along winding and precipitous roads through the mountains of Auvergne to Le Puy- en-Velay, the site of the shrine of Our Lady of France, popular in the Middle Ages. I could not imagine the rigors of reaching the shrine via horse or mule when it was difficult enough to reach it by car. We stayed the night there after an eventful meal at the hotel restaurant. (Long story. But the word "faim" can sound like "femme" if you do not pronounce it properly.)

The next morning we drove up to Lyon and then made our way on the back roads to Ars. It was noon; most of the pilgrims were at dinner so we had the church pretty much to ourselves. They were repairing the roof but other than that it was a stunningly beautiful church. I wandered around, lighting candles for those with grave needs. I turned a corner and almost jumped, because there he was-- the Curé d'Ars in his glass coffin, incorrupt, looking as if he were asleep. It was like being at a wake rather than visiting the tomb of someone long dead. His expression was so peaceful and serene, communicating both the shortness of life and the joy of final victory. Even in death, the holy Curé preaches to us. Share

7 comments:

Alan said...

Eventful meal, as in did somebody actually say, "j'ai femme" rather than "j'ai faim"? ;)

Thank you for the description of this splendid visit with the Curé.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Alan, pretty much. Actually, the portions were very small and my husband, having a hearty appetite after a long day of travel, was still famished. I tried to tell the young waitress that we needed to see the menu again to order more food, but she did not understand me in French or in English. (It was a small town in the mountains where they have their own dialect.)

Finally, I pointed to my starving husband and said: "Il a beaucoup de faim," meaning to say "He is very hungry." But she thought I said: "Il a beaucoup de femmes" or "He has many women." The poor girl gasped and ran back to the kitchen and did not return. We had no idea what had happened and why they would not bring us more food.

Eventually, a stern young man, who looked so much like the waitress that he could only have been her brother, emerged from the kitchen. He scowled so much that I thought he was going to expel us from the restaurant. I tried to explain that we wanted to see a menu but he did not understand either, but he seemed convinced that we were not dangerous and left us alone.

I heard the French people around us murmuring to each other and finally it occurred to me what the misunderstanding had been. It is one of the most amusing things that happened on that particular trip, although it wasn't funny at the time, and my husband never got more food.

Lucille said...

Those types of homophones initially confused me when I first started to study French, but I'm more accustomed to them now and it's not as difficult as it was at the onset.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, as long as you don't run into any real French people....;)

alaughland said...

He is a Saint's Saint. A Saint for all seasons.

Lucille said...

Fortunately or unfortunately, that won't be likely to happen anytime soon for me.

elena maria vidal said...

One never knows, dear....