Just before the early service at St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key FL on this All Saints' Day, one of our English parishioners told me that he had recently visited Lourdes and the shrine of St. Bernadette.
He asked if I had been there.
Indeed I had.
We, with joy, spoke of our mutual appreciation of the shrine, and that we had each been deeply moved, and spiritually blessed to be there.
I told him this story.
Way back when I was visiting my friends Jean-Paul and Lizzie in Bordeaux. It transpired that they each had one busy day during my visit.
I had a spare day on my Eu-rail pass. I had a very heavy head cold.
So we worked out that I could take a couple of trains and visit Lourdes and back, whilst they went about their business.
They drove me to Gare S.Jean in Bordeaux.
As I was boarding the train, Jean-Paul - a cynic in the French tradition - said "maybe the Vierge will cure your cold".
So off I went to Lourdes, where this strictly Protestant John Michael Povey was deeply and surprisingly moved and spiritually blessed to be at an ultra Roman Catholic shrine,
When I got back to Bordeaux Jean-Paul and Lizzie were there to meet me at the Railway Station. Jean-Paul's first words were "well did Bernadette cure your cold?"
I, on a spiritual "cloud nine", so to speak, I was not up for debate.
SO I said (and I do not know where these words came from):
"I do not believe that Lourdes is about mystical healings. I think that it is is about a peasant woman who refused to be silenced by a male religious hierarchy".
Dear Jean-Paul. He immediately confessed that my words gave him pause for thought.
Whatever the formal Church says, the Holy Spirit of God moves beyond the powerful male leaders to teach us from powerless women of faith.
Alleluia for Bernadette of Lourdes on All Saints' Day 2015.