Pilgrimage in the Eymardian Places
27 August - 2 September 2023
“Oh! how unfortunate then is the one who does not know the God of the Eucharist! He is like the orphan who is alone in the world! How unhappy is the man amidst his goods, his pleasures, and the glory of the world without the Eucharist! He is a poor shipwrecked person on an uninhabited island. With the Holy Eucharist, the Christian is comfortable anywhere, he can live without anything, since he has Jesus Christ. There is no exile for the one who is with Jesus Christ; there is no prison for the one who lives in Jesus Christ. The Christian fears only one misfortune, that of losing Jesus Christ; what a loss, the loss of the adorable Eucharist. The most Holy Eucharist, here then is his sovereign good!” (St Peter-Julian Eymard, RA 19,6)
On the first day, after the Holy Mass in the “Eymard Chapel” at La Mure, we visited the permanent exhibition in Rue du Breuil, where Fr. Manuel presented a detailed account of the life and spiritual path of the Saint. In the afternoon we went to the "Three Crosses", above La Mure, a penitential and restorative place for the young Eymard who often used to go there barefoot, even in the snow, when preparing for his First Communion. It was very touching for us to reflect on the meaning of suffering linked to the Cross, offered and lived in complete abandonment to God’s will.
At our second stop at the Shrine of Our Lady of Laus, on a bright sunny day after much rain, we perceived St Peter-Julian Eymard’s profound attachment to the Virgin Mary in his spiritual journey. It is precisely in this place that the Saint breathed a devout and evocative atmosphere; it is here that he received his priestly vocation from the hands of Our Lady; it is here that he chose her as his Mother and abandoned himself entirely to her after his beloved mother’s death.
Peter-Julian continued to entrust to the Virgin Mary his journey of faith at the Shrine of Our Lady of Osier, where he celebrated his first Mass after his priestly ordination that took place on 20 July 1834. In the first years of his priesthood, a restlessness impelled him to complete of his intellectual and pastoral formation, through deepened study of the Holy Scriptures.
As a man of action, in his first assignment as assistant parish priest in Chatte, Peter-Julian passionately dedicated himself to teaching catechism, preaching and the ministry of confession. From our stop in Chatte we fondly recall how Fr. Emanuele hospitably refreshed us with excellent food in the restful garden of the parish house. At the “Rock” of Saint-Romans, another Calvary after that of La Mure, Peter-Julian Eymard embraced the love of God by immersing himself in the beauty of the landscape and nature.
At the Shrine of La Salette, another stop on our pilgrimage, we meditated on the fact that our Saint read and interpreted Our Lady’s message of the apparitions, which occurred in that place in 1846, as an invitation to “Eucharistic reparation”. This experience would also lead Eymard to progress in his project, which he will fully discover later: adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
As the pilgrimage to the Eymardian places was drawing to a close, we arrived in Grenoble, the city in the major seminary of which St Peter-Julian Eymard studied, was ordained a priest and celebrated his last Mass. For us from Turin, it was a pleasant surprise to learn, from a plaque placed in the Cathedral, that in that same place, where St Peter-Julian Eymard and the Curé of Ars had been ordained priests, our St John Bosco also passed. Also very moving was the Holy Mass celebrated in Monteynard, the final stage of the pilgrimage. In this place the Saint carried out his mission as parish priest for a few years, before leaving his devoted parishioners and sisters to embrace his vocation as a Marist.
Eymard, cathedral of Grenoble
St Peter-Julian spent all of himself in communicating his passion for the Holy Eucharist especially to the men and women religious of the Congregations he founded and to groups of laity, so that each one was enabled to become a sign of the love and gift of God.
The pilgrimage was demanding, offering much food for thought for our daily journey but, at the same time, full of serenity and joyful conviviality.
We sincerely thank Fr. Manuel for accompanying us and for the impeccable, tireless and passionate commitment that he dedicated to us. We remember our other travel companions fondly. We thank Brigitte and all the parishioners of La Mure, who joyfully witnessed brotherhood in giving themselves to the service of hospitality.
We ask our dear and beloved Saint Peter-Julian Eymard, an apostle in love with the Eucharist, to intercede for us and for our communities!
Giuseppina and Isabella
Aggregation of the Bl. Sacrament, Turin