Monday, September 23
Br. Larry Schatz, FSC
This morning we began our pilgrimage with a trip to Reims Cathedral. Its “claim to fame” is that it is where almost all of the kings of France were crowned. Why Reims? Because it is in Reims where Clovis, king of the Franks, was baptized by St. Remi (Remigius) in the fifth century. The reason the cathedral is so special for us Lasallians is that there is where young John Baptist de La Salle served as a canon and offered his first mass as a priest. Although nearly destroyed in World War I, it has been restored to all of its Gothic splendor, and now includes windows by Marc Chagall. We stopped to pray at the side chapel where the Founder said his first mass and had some time of prayer together in this sacred Lasallian place.
Our next stop was at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Child Jesus, a group founded by Fr. Nicolas Roland, La Salle’s spiritual director. It is at that doorway where a key encounter took place in 1679 between Adrienne Nyel and our Founder. That began his conversion to a very different life than he or his family had planned.
We then visited the Basilica of St Remi, a lovely fusion of the Romanesque and Gothic styles, which contains the tomb of St. Remi, and where La Salle spent many nights in prayer.
After lunch, we visited the Mumm Champagne Headquarters. Reims is, of course, the center of the champagne industry in France, so we took a tour of the caves while learning about the meticulous process of making champagne. And naturally, we had to sample a bit of the bubbly!
We ended our day with a late dinner out, and during the dessert portion of our meal, we asked pilgrims to share what has resonated with them these first two days. It was a wonderful—-and at times very emotional—-sharing. Through it all, we are all getting to know one another better and realizing yet again what a blessing being “together and by association” is for all of us.