I would like to put down a lot of thoughts about this experience but am exhausted. The exhaustion is a combination of several things. We spent last weekend on a mini-pilgrimage in the French Alps visiting the birthplace of St. Peter Faber (Pierre Favre. His name is not mispronounced in the same way as that of a former quarterback for the Packers) who was, with Ignatius and Xavier and six others, a founder of the Society. Most people are surprised to learn that Faber (his Latinized name) was the first Jesuit ordained a priest.
The trip was great but tiring. We were at about 5500 feet elevation. That is higher than Denver. I went berserk with the camera but had to move a bit more slowly than usual. The Alps are magnificent. We stayed in something that was a cross between a vacation hostel and a very simple hotel. While there was a sink and shower in the room, the hoppers were down the hall. Echoes of college! The hotel supplied neither soap nor towels. It seems that no one told me that before we went. It was good to get into the shower when we got home on Sunday. As it was quite cool and very dry the inability to shower was not a problem. It was way too cold in the room to even think about air drying
On Friday evening three of the novices put on a short two-act play about Ignatius, Faber, and Xavier in the village church. It was very well done. Will describe the one picture from that even when I post it.
On Saturday AM after breakfast we drove to Villaret, the tiny village where Faber was born, and parked at the church. After a bit of a talk from a Belgian Jesuit, we walked about 2 miles to the chapel built over the site where Faber was born. The chapel is tiny. It could not hold all 30 of us comfortably. Or even uncomfortably. I stayed in the doorway an sat on the stoop. We then walked back to the cars and returned to the hotel. There were several hours of free time and I took a number of photos (total for the weekend was about 1400). Some afternoon conferences on Faber were interesting but I skipped the evening activities as my French wasn't, and isn't, up to it.
Sunday morning we drove into town for Mass and then a reception put on by the parish. All told there were 30 Jesuits including the novices.
After lunch we drove home. The drive home on Sunday took only two hours. The drive from Lyon to Villaret at the peak of rush hour is best forgotten. Thought I was back in Boston. It was a splendid weekend though one that included a lot of activity. I probably overdid it in combination with what was a busy week at school.
Slept poorly last night. A combination of several things including stupidly having about 5 ounces of red wine with dinner. Won't whine about that any more.
Below find the photos and explanations.
The first is one of the novices who portrayed Ignatius. Technically this photo should not have happened. It was hand held rather than taken with a tripod for 1/6 second. That is eternity when holding a camera. Was sitting on the steps to the choir, hugging the wall and tucked into myself more tightly than your average Olympic diver. Am beyond pleased with the result. Wanted the Low Countries genre look and got it.
The chapel built over the birthplace of St. Peter Faber. Very small.
This view of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in France was a shock in that it was the view from my room in this, at best, 1/2 star hotel. It was not visible in the morning due to fog and cloud but when I looked out the window after Mass I was struck speechless (only for a very short time). This was the view at sunset. I got up from my chair every ten minutes to take another photo as the sun gradually disappeared.
There were cows grazing on the ski slope just outside the hotel. Each of them had a cowbell attached. Fortunately they were far enough away that the sound was rustic rather than infuriating. Good way to keep the grass mowed.
The next two are views into valleys on either side of the hotel. The hotel was on a bit of a plateau with glorious views in both directions.
A dormant ski lift awaiting the snow.
The two village churches we attended.
Spring flowers near the hotel.
More views of the mountains surrounding the area.
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD