Saturday, 5 June 2010

Bartrès...

We organise our own pilgrimage activities in order to keep costs down. For the past few years, we have tried to have some sort of optional afternoon excursion: a visit to the Grottes de Betharram (caves in the Pyrenees) and a trip up to the Pic du Jer on the funicular railway have featured previously.

This year we decided to pay a visit to Bartrès, the village where Bernadette's wet-nurse lived. Bernadette's mother, Louise, was very badly burned when a candle fell on her, and she couldn't breastfeed Bernadette. Marie Laguës, a customer of François Soubirous, had just lost her own child, and she agreed to nurse Bernadette for 5 francs a month, paid in cash or flour. Bernadette stayed with Marie until she was 2 years old.

In the Autumn of 1857, Bernadette returned to Bartrès. The Soubirous family had fallen on hard times, and it was felt that Bernadette, left with severe asthma after contracting cholera, would benefit from the healthier surroundings and better food. It also meant that there would be one less mouth to feed at the Cachot, the old prison building where the Soubirous family was forced to live. Bernadette was sent to work for her old wet-nurse, looking after the children, tending the sheep and doing various jobs around the farm.

Part of the deal struck between the two families was that Bernadette, who hadn't been able to attend school regularly, would be given the chance to go to school and attend catechism classes. Unfortunately, work on the farm took priority. Marie Laguës attempted to teach Bernadette her catechism, but became impatient when Bernadette found it difficult. Finally, the Parish Priest at Bartrès left to join a Benedictine community, and Bernadette realised that there was no chance of making her first Communion at Bartrès. She made the decision to return to Lourdes in January 1858. Three weeks later, Our Lady appeared in the Grotto at Massabielle.

I didn't get a chance to visit the sheepfold, as the path up from the town would have been too steep for me. I did, however, get to visit the parish church. St. Bernadette would have seen this same altarpiece... (ignore the wooden table in front!)

A little side altar to St. Bernadette...

The choir loft of the church...

A confessional... (sadly no longer in use, from the look of it.)

Another side-altar - this one to Our Lady...

I persuaded the group to stand for a photo, as the view from the graveyard was just so perfect...

The Laguës' farmhouse...

The bed where St. Bernadette slept...

Finally, St. Bernadette would wash clothes here...

Next year, we are going to see if it will be possible to celebrate Mass in the church in Bartrès. The opportunity to attend Mass in the church St. Bernadette knew and loved will be a very special one.

3 comments:

Miss Ellen E. said...

Thanks for the 'travelogue'. Your photos and description are almost as good as being there in person.

I've only been to Lourdes once, and because we had such a full programme within the Domaine itself, didn't get an opportunity to visit Bartrès. It looks a fascinating place.

Fr Michael Brown said...

An LMS pilgrimage I was a chaplain to in 2008 had no problem having a Missa Cantata at Bartrès and it was certainly the liturgical highlight of our trip.

Autumn said...

Thanks for the wonderful photos :)
I have an award for you to collect, here: http://iamhisbeloved.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/sunshine-award/
God bless! A xx

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