The third day of pilgrimage began at the Basilica of Our Lady of Fourvière.
From 24 to 29 April 2023, the Eymard Centre of Spirituality of La Mure organized a pilgrimage to Lyons and La Mure in the footsteps of our Founder Saint Peter-Julian Eymard. We were five members of the Eymardian Family: Father Jesuraja Thomas from India, Brother Michel Lukikeba, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sister Christiane Diahoua and Sister Urtelle Mahoungou, both from the Republic of Congo, and Father Thaddée Mupapa, the group leader.
We spent this time in prayer and faced many questions. Everyone comes to discover Father Eymard by various means: reading books, studying his life, listening to other people relating their experience of visiting the Eymardian places, retracing the path in the places where Father Eymard had walked.
The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptiste, Lyons, was the first place we visited, on Tuesday April the 25th. It represents one of the places where our Founder’s experience of Lord’s love matured, an experience enriched by Saint John the Apostle’s closeness to Christ. So, each of us was invited to be attentive to the particular graces received in letting ourselves be challenged by this same experience.
Then we continued our walk to the Church of Saint Paul, not far from the residence of the Marist Fathers where Father Eymard had lived. Three lay people and a nun welcomed us there and told us about the place. It is here where on 25 May 1845 the Founder carried the Blessed Sacrament in the Corpus Christi procession, during which he experienced a great attraction to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. From then on he decided to spread knowledge of the love of God in the Eucharist to the world, following the example of Saint Paul’s preaching. Our visit there ended by the celebration of the Eucharist and was followed by Eucharistic adoration.
Our third stop was at the Church of Saint-Nizier. Here Mr. Julien welcomed us and provided a thorough explanation about the history of this place. Among other things here, there is the tomb of Blessed Pauline Jaricot and the crypt of the martyrs of Lyons. Blessed Frederic Ozanam stands out among so many other people associated with this place. These, like our Founder, Blessed Pauline Jaricot, Antoine de Chevrier, the holy Curé of Ars, understood well that charity entails more than mere good intentions and words, but that it is translated into concrete acts of kindness.
Finally, our last stop of the day was at the Place Bellecour. It was here where Father Eymard met Marguerite Guillot in the Church of Charity, the only remaining trace of which is the belfry. Apart from being wearied by the walk, we were all very glad to have made our spiritual journey by visiting these very significant places.
On the second day we visited the Prado, the House founded by Blessed Antoine Chevrier. He was profoundly challenged by the poverty of Christ in the manger, his love for the Eucharist, his Cross, and the miserable state of children. He transformed a ballroom called Prado into a chapel and a place to welcome poor children. His attempt to work with our Founder came to nothing, since the latter was attracted to religious life whereas his focus was secular life. We celebrated Mass in the chapel where Blessed Antoine Chevrier is buried.
Finally, we arrived at the Church of Saint Martin d'Ainay, a remarkable Church with many religious symbols that Madame Janine, a guide of the place, had the pleasure to tell us about. Father Eymard used often to go to celebrate Mass there, where he met various friends, among whom were Nathalie Jordan and the philosopher Blanc de Saint Bonnet.
Deacon Adel Camel, being a good guide, took us to the bells, to the top where there is the statue of the Blessed Virgin of Fourvière that overlooks the city of Lyons, and down to the crypt. Many saints had come to pray in this Basilica, for example: Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Adjoining the Basilica is the chapel, marked by a plaque commemorating Father Eymard’s receiving during prayer the “grace of vocation”: forming a group of men dedicated to the Eucharist. We celebrated the Eucharist there followed by a period of quiet prayer.
Our pilgrimage to Lyons was completed by visiting the house of Pauline Jaricot. This laywoman, beatified on 22 May 2022, decided to follow the poor Christ. She deepened the spirituality of the love of Christ in the Eucharist giving it concrete expression by founding in favour of the poor many charitable works, which included the pontifical missionary works. Our Founder greatly admired her witness of love for Christ in the Eucharist and her commitments towards the poor. This witness continues to challenge our Eucharistic experiences.
After all the graces received in Lyons we were welcomed at La Mure in the family home of our Founder. This nice clean house in good condition was where we stayed in incredible peace from 27 to 30 April. Marie-Thérèse Joubert, a member of the Aggregation of the Blessed Sacrament, showed us the Eymardian places: the Eymard Chapel where our Founder was baptized and his funeral was celebrated, his tomb and his Museum. On the following day we visited Monteynard, Grenoble with the Chapel of Adoration where Father Eymard celebrated his last Mass, the Seminary where he studied and celebrated his first Mass, and the Cathedral in which we gathered in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. We visited the Chapel of Villard Saint Christophe where Pierre-Julien Eymard received the sacrament of confession in preparation for his first Holy Communion.
Finally, we completed our pilgrimage at the Shrines of Our Lady of Laus and La Salette. Father Eymard had gone there several times and he encourages us to go there. An Oratory is dedicated to him, commemorating where he received his vocation to the priestly life and where he went on several occasions to ask for graces for his vocation and his works.
In conclusion, this pilgrimage was beneficial in many respects: the passage from just an idea of the life of our Founder to the reality of the places that enriched his vocation, the rediscovery of the riches of the Lord’s love revealed to the Founder in these various places. We will never cease rediscovering the riches of God's love in the Eucharist, such as lived and witnessed by Saint Peter-Julian Eymard.
Sister Christiane Diahoua, sss
Sister Urtelle Mahoungou, sss