At that hour France was alone. Overcome and cast down, she seemed hardly to live as a nation, and the glory she loves seemed to have left her sky. But it was at that hour that the nations sought her. They came, not to her capital, not in search of her pleasures, not in quest of her art, but to pray for healing at her shrine.
Lourdes was the solitary shining light of France in 1871. Our vanquished regiments, gathered there, opened their ranks to allow the stranger to draw near and to offer his prayers to her who loves the people and the soil of France. There were solemn hours at Lourdes that year. One who witnessed them -- who had passed through the battlefield to the sanctuary -- cannot without perpetually fresh emotion, at this day tell of what befell there after the war.
Lourdes is the vindication of France, It is as though the Blessed Virgin, foreseeing the miseries that were to come, had prepared the favour, the justification, the gift of this sanctuary for the children of the Crusaders.
Lourdes is the home of miracle. We are able today to speak with those who have seen the miracle with their own eyes. On that testimony we believe it. No student of history but shows a greater credulity, in believing facts whereof no witnesses are living.
Finally, Lourdes is not of the busy world. Crowds are there, but they are not the crowds of pleasure, of strife, or of money-seeking. The pilgrim, in the midst of them, finds recollection and peace. A space of freedom from turmoil, an interval of separation from the world, are lurking in this corner of the mountains for him who needs them. And while mankind has so much to suffer, men will go in search of the footsteps of Mary, Queen of Martyrs, comforter of the afflicted.
<< Lourdes >>