Traditionally, May is the month dedicated to Our Lady. May is also the month that our Provincial, Mother Maria Christine is celebrating her feast day. In honor of both occasions, 54 “Palatine Pilgrims” headed over to our parish, St. Theresa’s, a mere two blocks away. But lest you think this was not much of a journey for pilgrims, we assure you that the efforts made by so many Residents to climb on and off the bus and vans made up for the distance traveled.
Our destination was a new shrine in the parish dedicated to Our Lady of the Smile (Vierge du Sourire). Father Matt Jameson, associate pastor, gave us a beautiful explanation of the shrine: St. Therese of Lisieux described the statue on her dresser of the Blessed Virgin in May 1884 as “Beautiful, so beautiful that I had never seen anything so beautiful”.
The statue was near her bed when at 11 years old she suffered for weeks from a strange disease. “Finding no Help on the earth, poor little Therese had also turned to her Mother of Heaven, she prayed with all her heart to finally have pity on her … Suddenly the Blessed Virgin appeared to me beautiful, so beautiful as ever I had not seen anything so beautiful, his face breathed a goodness and an ineffable tenderness, but what penetrated me to the bottom of the soul was the ‘beautiful smile of the Blessed Virgin’. Then all my troubles vanished.” Excerpts from a Story of a Soul by Thérèse of Lisieux.
After his talk, Fr. Matt exposed the Blessed Sacrament and led us in prayer, song and Benediction. As we were leaving, the new statue of the Infant of Prague just arrived. This beautiful statue will be placed in a new shrine being built in the church.
As we took a group picture, Fr. Matt happily placed the Infant in at his side.
Spiritually refreshed but, physically hungry, we knew that the intensity and effort made by 54 pilgrims would require some nourishment for them. Another trek, another block away and we were at the Palatine Inn for banana splits! While enjoying the ice cream treat, laughter and good conversation flowed like wine (even though we didn’t have any…)
The distance was short but the quality of this time with such a large group of our Residents was wonderful. We truly believe that Our Lady of the Smile did indeed smile upon our group as we made this pilgrimage of love.