We began our last full day in France by visiting the Shrine of St. Bernadette, located in Nevers. The shrine is at the convent where St. Bernadette spent the last years of her life. We celebrated Mass in Chapel where St. Bernadette's incorrupt body lies. What an inspiration for us to be so close to one who was so close to Jesus and His Mother, Mary. After visiting the convent and other buildings on the grounds, we made our way to Vezelay to visit the Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine (Saint Mary Magdalene), another church designated as a Holy Door in this Year of Mercy. Altogether, we have walked through about 13 Holy Doors on this journey. Several of our group were blessed to receive the Annointing of the Sick as they ask for healing of their illness and/or the grace to accept the cross of illness. It was also interesting to learn that Vezelay stands at the beginning of one of the four major routes through France for pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, in the north-western corner of Spain. We saw several sea shells in the pavement indicating the Way of St. James and also saw two pilgrims on their journey. For some of us, that marks a future goal--another way to deepen our faith in prayer and fellowship with others.
Finally, we made our way back to Paris and settled in for our last night in France. We enjoyed a traditional French meal, basked in the new friendships we have made and those that have been strengthened, and know that we have learned a great deal about our Catholic faith and have grown in that faith over the last 14 days. We have learned from each of the saints that we have come to know better and strive to emulate their examples of undying love and faith to Jesus Christ and His Mother, Mary.