our lady of the immaculate conceptionsunrise – 7:19     sunset – 5:50
winter countdown – day 53 of 90

lourdes1Today is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. In our family this date and feast-day has a long history. Before we immigrated to Canada, my dad and a number of people including Totonno Zinga had left Aprigliano and through an agent ended up on a short-term contract in south-western France.

FranceTotonno was my dad’s first cousin and best-friend. They grew up together. (My dad is far-left, Totonno is in the middle.) Totonno’s two children still live in Aprigliano. The postcard is of the cathedral in Lourdes.

The narrative in our family is that my dad had wanted to move to the family to south-western France. He liked the area at the foothills of the Pyrenees and he had made enough contacts to secure work. But my mother wanted to join her family in Northern Ontario and she prevailed at a time when American was the land of streets paved with gold.

All through my preteens and the 1950’s, Lourdes and the feast of the Immaculate Conception were central themes. South-western France was a place my dad had fond memories of and lost to the wilds and winters of Northern Ontario. (I remember many time wondering what life would have been like had we taken that option.) And Holy Mother Church was on a campaign to establish both the doctrine and the feast of Mary’s immaculate conception. Holy cards, statues, rosaries, Lourdes water, crutches all kids of artifacts were distributed to the faithful to promote the new doctrine. (There are Lourdes grottoes throughout the Catholic world. When Mac and I were in Maine, we found one outside of Kennebunkport. In Italy Lourdes grottoes are as common as Mary statues. And pilgrimages to Lourdes are advertised the same way we advertise package trips to Disneyland.)