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March

PietaOur LADY OF MERCY
PIETÀ of Montpezat

Marie Rivier discovered that “this lady” would cure her incapacity to walk.  For 4 years, (ages 2-6) she prayed daily to Mary for healing, fully confident that her prayer would be answered.  This mother holding her dead son was instrumental in Marie Rivier’s formation in the spiritual life.   These hours with the Virgin Mary initiated a spiritual journey which lasted her whole life.   Prayers were said with the simplicity of a child, certain that what she wanted would happen.   She would cajole the Virgin (“You must be cold, I brought a hat for you”) make promises (“if you cure me, I will bring little children to know and love you.”).  How could a mother not respond to such entreaties?  Theirs was an on-going dialogue, which continued throughout Marie Rivier’s life.

Photos do not render the simple beauty of this statue of the Pieta, also known as Our Lady of Mercy –.  When I personally saw it in Montpezat, I was struck by how beautifully this wooden sculpture expressed Mary’s sorrow.  

The Chapel of the Penitents where Marie Rivier prayed with such fervor was not far from the Rivier home.   In 1885, the statue was moved to the parish church where it remains until today.   In 1984, Denis Picollo sculptured a wooden replica which was placed in the Chapel at Bourg-saint-Andeol.

Submitted by Sr. Janice Fournier, pm

 


February

Good Help CCF04102019 00000 2 220x3401xOUR LADY OF GOOD HELP

Marie Rivier made many pilgrimages to this Virgin in Lablachère not far from Montpezat.  In her letters to Mary, she spoke as a child to her mother, telling her of all her problems and difficulties in establishing her convents, confident Mary would answer her.  In one of these letters she begged the Virgin to help her find qualified personnel to teach in her school and for vocations for her convents.  The extreme poverty of the beginnings and her poor health toward the end of her life were some subjects of these petitions.  If the problems were not solved fully, she did receive new strength and a continued determination to do God’s Will.

This particular Virgin was enthroned in a chapel in Lablachère in 1682 on Palm Sunday, and quickly became an important pilgrimage site, interrupted only during some days of the Revolution.

The Virgin is beautifully portrayed in a wood carving.  She is crowned Queen of heaven, holding a scepter of authority.  Jesus is also crowned and holds the world in his hand.  As royalty does, they are ready to come to the assistance of those who ask for it.

Our Lady of GOOD HELP, you answered Marie Rivier’s requests many times, pray for us in our needs.

Submitted by Sr. Janice Fournier. PM

 


January

Family CCF04052019 00001 400x6281xOUR LADY OF NAZARETH / OF THE HOLY FAMILY

When I chose to write about this statue so beloved to Mother Rivier, I felt that it fit well into the month of January. 

In the liturgy of January we continue to celebrate the event of the Incarnation.  The feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on the Sunday before January 01 or on December 30 if Christmas falls on a Sunday.

Although the Holy Family has been honored through the centuries, a specific date for this feast only happened in the 20th century.

The gospels of Matthew and Luke provide us with glimpses of life in this new Jewish family consisting of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as they grow together as a family.

This statue of the Virgin is part of three life-size painted wooden statues representing the Holy Family.  Mr. Vernet acquired the set made by a poor shepherd from the Tyrol region, and presented it to Mother Rivier. She accepted with great joy; she envisioned her daughters of the Holy Family living in imitation of the hidden life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph at Nazareth.

Joseph is a saint, Mary is without sin, Jesus is God incarnate, yet there are still challenges, hardships, tense moments, and opportunities for misunderstanding when they work together to live these moments, as well as events for celebration of life.

Pope Paul VI states that “from the Holy Family we learn about silence, family life (also life in community) and discipline”.  Wherever we are on our life journey, we can learn from Mary – Jesus and Joseph too – that opportunities to grow in faith, hope and love can be found along the path.  Thus, family life as it is lived out each day can be a road to profound personal transformation and communion with God.

These statues are currently in the Mother House at Bourg Saint-Andéol, France at the end of a hallway visible to the Sisters and an inspiration as they go about their daily tasks.

 


December

thumbnail Apple Tree CCF04102019 00006 185x2861xOUR LADY OF THE APPLE TREE

 This oddly named ancient statue was venerated in Largentière, not far from Montpezat in France. The legend tells of a site chosen by the people to build their new parish church. Work began, but every night the workers’ tools disappeared and were found under an apple tree on the opposite embankment. The people understood that their church was to be built where the apple tree stood. The statue is said to have been sculpted from the wood of this tree, and was venerated from that time forward.

During the French Revolution the church in Largentière had been closed, but it was opened for Marie Rivier who spent three days in prayer before this statue. Marie Rivier always consulted Mary before taking important decisions and this one was most serious. Should she leave Montpezat for Thueyts as the call seemed to be? After many rosaries and ardent pleadings, she knew interiorly what she should do. Marie received a letter from her spiritual director saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ, come to Thueyts; this is the will of God for you. I cannot doubt it is God calling you to come and do good work here.” She did not hesitate to obey this order from heaven. And so it was that Thueyts saw the beginnings of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary.

 


November

Mary 350x6431xOUR LADY OF THE PRESENTATION

On November 20, 1796, in the house of the Dominicans in Thueyts, France (where she lived and had her school) Marie Rivier and her students and teachers were preparing to celebrate Saint Catherine (patron of girls) on November 25.

Mr. Pontanier dropped in unexpectedly and suggested she and her companions make their promises to God the next day instead of on November 25. Marie Rivier had never heard of the feast of the Presentation of Mary, but the name alone appealed greatly to her. So, on November 21, Marie Rivier and her companions made their promises to God, consecrating themselves, the house, their students and all Marie Rivier’s projects to Mary.

Seal StampPM 200x2001xAfter the Mass, Mr. Pontanier offered Marie Rivier a stamp with the initials of the Ave Maria worked into a monogram of the Blessed Mother, saying, ‘Take it. Let it be the seal of your convent.’ Marie Rivier accepted it with deep feelings of respect and joy, confident that this was the answer to all her prayers, to her desire of founding a Convent.

Thus it came about that November 21st became the main feast day of this new “convent”, and the birth of the Institute of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary.

Our Lady of THE PRESENTATION, pray for us.

This is a photocopy of the monogram traced on wooden disks and placed above every doorway in the Generalate at Castelgandolfo on November 21, 1996. Designed by Sr. Janice Fournier, pm

 The mystery of Mary’s presentation in the Temple remains a beautiful symbol of her relationship to God, evoking for us the wonders that God has done. As we ponder this mystery, we marvel at God’s work in Mary, and also in all of creation. This relationship is offered to us as well. We have only to be open to God’s invitation and discover his wonders and glories.

 


October

Our Lady of SmilesOUR LADY OF SMILES is a painted wooden statue dating from Roman times.  Mary has a grave and severe expression.  It belonged to a poor girl of Montpezat who lent it to Marie Rivier and eventually gave it to the Sisters of the Presentation.  Marie Rivier placed it in her classroom, often praying before it.  Marie Rivier’s dream was to found a convent; she had the students pray fervently, watching the Virgin’s face for a smile.  The Virgin did smile – everyone saw the smile at the same time – and Marie Rivier knew that this was a sign from Mary approving her project.  The Virgin smiled several times as well when Marie Rivier prayed with the students for other favors.

In Mother Rivier’s time, there was no Child Jesus in Mary’s lap – there evidently had been once upon a time.  The child Jesus was lost! In 1982, the statue was restored, the cloth robe she was wearing was removed, and the statue was painted in colors similar to how it may have been originally.  The Child Jesus was reproduced as it may have been so long ago and placed in Mary’s lap.  The work is now completed!

Blessed Virgin Mary, smile on our dreams.  May we have the faith and hope to make them come true!

Our Lady of Smiles, pray for us.