Series Introduction 2023:
Here is the start of a strange series of posts that appeared at this website in 2010. These entries chronicle my reflections travelling the length of France in a van with my wife Kim—beginning with Lourdes in the South and moving slowly over eight weeks to Pontmain in the North, close to a thousand miles in all. At the time, we were relocating to Britain, but with the hope of eventually returning to Ireland.
This series remains precious to my heart—as my experiences on this trip in hallowed sites like Lourdes, Pontmain and the Vendée proved seminal for my work ever since. Whether these posts will speak to anyone else, though, is a moot point. They are deeply personal, sometimes to the point of being cryptic.
For that reason, I now offer (below) a short, explanatory foreword to each individual post, just in case anyone does care to enter with me into this intimate world of meaning for me.
Likewise, these links are provided to help navigate through this series.
- Chapter 1: France and Lourdes
- Chapter 2: On France and Ireland
- Chapter 3: Our Lady Calls
- Chapter 4: Josephin Péladan and Charles A. Coulombe
- Chapter 5: Recalling Ireland
- Chapter 6: The Enduring Presence of Catholic France
- Chapter 7: Freemasonry and France
- Chapter 8: Liberal No More
- Chapter 9: Liberal Catholicism, Like a Sieve
- Chapter 10: Pyramids on the Nile
- Chapter 11: The Vendée – Home to a Counter-Revolution
- Chapter 12: O Claire Ferchaud!
- Chapter 13: Our Lady of Pontmain
2023 Introduction to Ch. 12
Here I tell of my unforgettable visit to Loublande, just outside the Vendée. Whilst Loublande may not technically be part of the Vendée, it is certainly part of what might be called the greater Vendee region, where the Counter-Revolution was fought.
But most importantly, Loublande is where Sister Claire Ferchaud beheld his Sacred Heart in the Great War …
I have more about Claire Ferchaud and Loublande in a post here.
And now what I wrote back in that indelible summer of 2010.
From 2010—Chapter Twelve: O Claire Ferchaud!
A tribute now, to a very special place.
Just at the very edge of the Vendée.
But still belonging to the territory of the Counter-Revolution … with the same tradition and the same piety anchored here, as well.
But there is still more to Loublande …
Loublande. Unforgettable Loublande.
Loublande a small village, where Claire Ferchaud reported visions of His Sacred Heart during the Great War …
Where thousands of pilgrims began to descend …
Yet almost completely forgotten today.
I came to Loublande sympathetic to Sister Claire, but also somewhat sceptical as well.
The story of Claire Ferchaud is so very strange. The young barely literate peasant, barely yet a woman, who won an audience with Raymond Poincaré, the President of the Republic.
The Third Republic – so hostile to and repressive of the Church.
A President who could not have been less sympathetic to her cause: that France had been called to place the Sacred Heart on its flag.
Called by Jesus.
There in the centre of the French tricolour.
It was not easy to get an audience with the President of France in 1917, for anyone – let alone Claire who had left school, age eleven …
A very, very, very strange story indeed.
Yes, I arrived with doubts.
Now, I do not know what to think.
Loublande was – again – completely unforgettable.
Unforgettable the quality of depth, of prayer I found in that Loublande church, where Claire reported seeing Our Lord …
I shall remember that altar to the Sacred Heart for the rest of my days.
In so many ways, Loublande in the West of France reminds me of Paray-le-Monial in the East.
In Paray, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque also had what appear to us moderns as the strangest of messages concerning His Sacred Heart.
She heard that that Heart should be placed on the standards of the King of France.
She heard that in Paray.
Paray, which changed my life forever.
But as I write these words, the power of Loublande has not yet stopped shaking me …
It is perhaps too early to say.
But I feel changed by Loublande, too.
And Sister Claire, as she became known, would live out her days in Loublande, believing that President Poincaré had made the most terrible mistake.
Sister Claire lived a life hidden away from the world and dedicated to expiation for the sin of France …
With sisters dedicated to the same.
Sister Claire, I had the privilege of visiting your little convent, as well. The chapel there also so very deeply moving.
And the sisters there, who remembered you.
I must say that this little group of sisters felt to me, far more living and inspired than the half-dead convents I reported earlier in these travels. The sheer sweetness of one of these sisters touches me in particular.
She gives me a book about Claire Ferchaud, which relates not only the visions, but a miracle …
Claire’s visions were never approved by the Vatican. But they were never condemned either. And throughout the decades after the Great War, it is clear that she had a particular solicitude from Popes.
Pius XI personally approved one of her prayers.
Indeed it seems that Benedict XV called her to a meeting in Rome in 1922, but died suddenly, before that appointment could take place.
And Sister Claire continued for the next fifty years to pray in Loublande.
Sister Claire, pray for us …
Next Installment: A Cryptic Traditional Catholic Travelogue 13
Foreword for Monarchy by Roger Buck
Buying Books at Amazon Through These Links Gives Us a Commission. This Supports Our Apostolate. Thank You if You Can Help Us Like This!