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Monday, October 16, 2017

Pilgrimage to Our CSJ Origins -- St. Flour

Sr. Line Rioux (blue jacket) and Sr. Eluiza de Andande (strawberry jacket) led a pilgrimage for six participants from Argentina, Australia, and the USA on the key places in the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph. The participants were invited to reflect on God's active presence in the persons studied and places visited as well as to become aware of God's presence in their own lives through the mission and charism already alive in each of them.

The first stop was St. Flour, almost 2 hours from Le Puy. St. Flour was our founder, Fr. Medaille's, first mission after he became a priest in 1643. 

Jean Pierre Medaille was born in Carcassonne, France, on October 6, 1610. As a Jesuit, he was first assigned to be a missionary to the small villages in south-central France. He also taught grammar at the Jesuit college in St. Flour. While he was there, he met several women who were tending the sick and wanted some kind of spiritual community. He later met more of these kinds of women in LePuy where he eventually founded the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1650.

St. Flour started out as a  small town located on a rocky outcropping called Mt. Indiciac. It flourished as a medieval city developed in the 12th century. The new city is down below. Population is about 7,000. Fr. Medaille would have mingled among the people in the old city.

Fr. Medaille taught at the Jesuit College in St. Flour.

entrance to the Jesuit College

St. Peter's Cathedral started out in the 5th and 6th centuries through Florus, the first apostle of the Haute-Auvergne area. He arrived on Mount Indiciac where the old city was built. After he died, the first sanctuary was built to shelter his tomb. In the 11th century, the abbot of Cluny founded St. Flour's priory. A Romanesque basilica was built here on the rocky outcrop of the site. Pope Urban II consecrated this church in 1095. 

The early gothic-style basalt nave of the church was built in 1398 and consecrated in 1466. The church had survived the collapse of its northern section in 1396 as well as the Plague and Hundred Years War.

During the French Revolution, the church's four towers were pulled down, the bells and statues were broken, the paintings, sacred ornaments and liturgical books were burned. The building was then named "Temple of the Supreme Being." 

Old altar of the church where Fr. Medaille probably celebrated the Eucharist.

This ancient crucifix is made of wood, but it looks like metal. It is located in the middle of the nave instead of at the altar.

The church has several artistic items:

5th century fresco preserved from the original church

elaborate organ located in the back of the nave

pietà made of wood and the forerunner of Michelangelo's pietà

Several side altars surround the back of the altar. Priests used to say Mass at these altars whether there were people present or not. The statue on the left and below is St. Peter for whom the cathedral is named.

St. Joseph side altar with the baptismal font 

majestic candelabra of a bygone era

dramatic entombment of a saint

We packed a picnic lunch to eat in a public park. 

We also checked out a local patisserie.

Before we left St. Flour, we stopped for coffee....

....and posed for pictures 

The first and second world wars were traumatic events for France. War memorials dot the entire country in commemoration for those who lost their lives. This 1921 sculpture is dedicated to the "dead children of France who gave their lives for France" during World War I.

St. Flour is surrounded by the beautiful French countryside.

Here is suburban St. Flour.

Here is wind energy technology near St. Flour.

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