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Colleen Roy

Big family blessings at Lourdes

Voices May 10, 2018

Lourdes pilgrimage photos taken by Scott and Colleen Roy, as well as some kind German ladies in Chartres.

Lourdes, Day Six, I think …

Just made it to Sunday Mass at the International Basilica. After Mass, we went to the baths. It was perfect timing because there were no lines. Scott took the boys, and I was with the girls. As the kids say, it was a breathtaking experience. My breath was completely taken when they lay me back in the icy waters. Plus, it was super-hot out, so the cold was accented. I started crying as I stood waiting to go in. The little Italian ladies praying over me were so quiet, and kind, and full of peace, and so sweet to Lucy and Madalen.

Andrew right away wanted to know if we could come again tomorrow. Isaac was supposedly very stoic and impressed the men very much. He asked me, “if a person had an itchy back, and then put the water on it, would it take the itch away?” So funny, because Lucy and I had been laughing at the Lourdes back scratchers that people were buying.

Elijah … Elijah. Well, he came out and immediately challenged his sister to a race. His poor little heart when things turned out as they always do. Part of me is so very unsure of why we are here.

Archbishop Miller told me, “He can hope! He can hope!” But right now, I wish he wouldn’t. Hope is not meant to disappoint. But he cheered up quickly enough, and we made our way to the castle on the hill. Super cool. Andrew had been so hoping to get to Versailles, to see the castle, so this was a wonderful surprise. At a little graveyard on the castle grounds there were empty stone coffins. The kids climbed in for photo ops. Isaac stuck his tongue out and closed his eyes.

We found a food stand near our hostel, and the lady was very lovely, a character. The kids only want to eat from her from now on.

Day Seven: Hot again! We had our oatmeal (how much we’ve saved with these weird little oatmeal packages!).

At the basilica we got to the baths too late … well, not really. The sign says, “Closed at 12:00”, but they close the gates at 11:30. We were there at 11:35. To be honest, Elijah was relieved. The cold of the water was more than he had expected. But Maddy and I went ahead to the grotto. Also closed. But a kind lady saw us and told us that if we were quick she’d let us through. Little did she know that there were seven more of us. She smiled happily and gave the kids glow-in-the-dark rosaries. It was a compensation to go through the grotto when we had missed the baths.

We made it to the bus stop and spent the afternoon at the lake. The kids had a lot of fun swimming and chasing ducks. Nico found a new one. Andrew and I laughed when he told me about the male duck who was following the female around incessantly (it’s spring, you know). Andrew tossed a piece of bread and the male turned around and chose it over his possibilities with the girl.

We went back to the basilica and started to notice thunderclouds! Thomas, who was on the brink of a meltdown, made it over to the taps of spring water, drinking and letting it run over his head. Then he went coo-coo. He lifted his hands, folded in prayer, and started running down the side of the rampart, giggling, yelping, and squeezing his hands like crazy. The really funny part of this was that a very sombre procession was happening beside us the whole time … very sombre.

The thunder and lightning started, and then the rain. We made it to a covering and were happy to meet two Korean priests and a brother. They were very impressed that we could count to 10 in Korean.

An old Italian priest joined our huddle and gave us a rosary blessed by the Pope. Blessings come, even in the rain. Then Scott ran with Elijah to a hotel bathroom, in a hurry … but ended up coming out with an Irish priest who wanted to meet Lucy (O’Reilly), and to see all the kids. He gave them all crucifixes. He also told us what time the English Mass was.

Many people approach to count the kids. Too funny. We definitely stand out here; very few children at all, and no other large families. One man saw us and said, “Now that’s a Catholic family.” He might take that back if he sees us in an off moment, ha-ha.

Isaac was starting to look a little off. On the way home he got sick and started a fever. I think the kids are generally worn out. We’ve been going non-stop in the heat. But Isaac always stays sweet.

Scott went back to the same lady for dinner. She was closed, but when she saw him she said she was happy to make our food for us. Scott told her he would pray for her. She said, “No, thank you.”

We settled the kids in early, after Rosary.