Apostle of Mary
Benedict XVI "Take
Trois Rivieres in Quebec, Canada is where Bl. Frédéric lived and is buried.
We learn how important he was to bringing pilgrimages to the nearby Marian Shrine of Cap du Madeleine.
When Pope John Paul II came to the Shrine he said,
"Today, indeed, we come to Notre-Dame du Cap as people of our
time. We come with those generations of the past with whom we share our
faith in the Mother of God. A fine inheritance has been bequeathed to you.
It has made you what you are. And the cornerstone of that inheritance is
Mary, to which your predecessors dedicated themselves. We are here to, as
it were, transfer this sharing of faith into the hearts of our generation
and their successors."
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Cap de la Madeleine receives a priest! - Blessed Frederic
Although Father Vachon died, we are sure his love for the people of Cap de la Madeleine did not die nor did his love for Our Lady of the Cap; after all he had been with them forty-five years. Had he been praying? Well God sent the parish a priest; but just not another priest, one who would bring new life to the suffering souls of the Cap. The Curé of Ars said, "If I had known when I arrived in Ars, all that I would have to suffer there, I would have died on the spot." In 1867, Father Désilets found 1000 hard-to-handle parishioners who knew little about the Faith and couldn't care less. No matter how hard he tried to reach them, the church remained basically empty on Sunday, with even fewer coming during the week, if that was possible.
Was God to allow this to continue? One night, Father was returning from hearing confessions in the vestry, when he stopped inside the church to pray. His heart almost broke! It was the eve of the Ascension and the church was empty! Then what should he see but a pig with a rosary dangling from his mouth! The thought came to him: "The rosary falls from men's hands to be picked up by the swine." What did he do? He wiped his tears, "girded his loins," put on the "armor of God" and consecrated himself to Our Lady of the Rosary! He immediately began promoting devotion to the Rosary. At first, the reception was very cool, but little by little, more and more men, women and children flocked to the church to pray the Rosary. He restored the Brotherhood of the Rosary, which Father Vachon had founded 100 years before. The little church which had been empty, now could no longer hold the congregation. Talk began again, to build a new, larger church. [What can Our Lady do, if we only pray!]
Miracle of the Ice Bridge
Well the finances of the village were no better than they had been during Father Vachon's time; and the only stones they could use were on the other side of the St. Lawrence River. It did not look too hopeful; but nonetheless the building of the new church was approved and work began. On the other side of the St. Lawrence river, the stones were being split and prepared. All was in readiness for transport across the river for when winter set in; at that time they would be able to cart the stones over the river which would be frozen. There was only one problem; they were having a very balmy winter, with the temperatures never dropping even close to freezing. No ice - no transport! The parish did not have the resources to pay for the stones to be transported across the river by ferry - therefore no new church!
In November, Father Luc Désilets asked the people to pray that a bridge of ice form on the river, so that the building blocks could be carried across. Everyone began praying. The young associate pastor, Father Duquay, each day, prayed the Rosary at a side chapel, in front of the altar of the Brotherhood of the Most Holy Rosary, at the feet of Our Lady of the Cap.
March came and a high wind began to break up the ice blocking the mouth of the Saint-Maurice River to the south and the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. The ice began to drift downstream to the Cap de la Madeleine. It was covering the river several hundred feet from the church. That Sunday, March 17th, Feast of St. Patrick, Father Duquay told the parishioners that there would be a High Mass for the feast of St. Joseph on March 19th, petitioning Jesus' foster father to ask his Son to form a bridge of ice! He also invited the men to come with him to survey the river. (If they wanted it done immediately, they should have asked St. Patty! - An Irishman joking)
When they arrived, they saw that the river was covered with a thin layer of ice floating among drifts of snow. They went from spot to spot, looking for blocks of ice floating closely together. They had gone about 1000 feet with no success, when they spotted two of the guides heading upriver to the south shore. Father joined them. Only Father Duquay and the two guides dared continue, the ice was so thin and treacherous.
Having arrived at the south shore, Firmin Cadotte (one of the guides) crawled forward, feeling in the icy waters for a piece of ice that could carry his weight. He persisted and then was joined by thirty other men who began working alongside one another to form a 1600 foot stretch of ice along the river, wide enough for two carts carrying stones to pass one another. At 11 P.M., they returned to the sacristy and Father asked, "Well men, what are we going to do now?" A plan was formulated whereby they would pour water over the thin bridge of ice that had formed and, upon freezing, pour more water over it until it would become thicker, and when it was thick enough to carry the weight of the carts and stones, they would begin carting the stones across the river.
It was the following morning, March
18th, at 3 A.M., when the men returned to the river's edge and went back
to work on the ice. Now considering how temperate it had been and that
it was now March, it was nothing short of a miracle that the bridge was
now solid enough to walk on! Men kept pouring
March 19th, Feast of St. Joseph, just as they were trying to decide where the opening should be made for the carts to travel, as much snow had fallen during the night blocking the way, what did they see coming across the bridge of ice? The first cart carrying blocks of stone! This cart was followed by other carts, until by Sunday 175 sleighs carrying stones had passed. The men had carted 1000 feet of stone plus enough stone for a foundation. Father Duquay ordered all work to stop. God had answered their prayers; it was time to say Thank You, Lord. That day, the bridge was given the name it carries till today, the Bridge of the Rosary. One of the workers said, "It was quite extraordinary, a real miracle. It defied common sense." And when Father Désilets saw what had come to pass, he said, "Is this not a clear sign of Heavenly intervention? Can one not manifestly see the Finger of God?"
from Bob and Penny Lord's chapter on St. John Vianney in their book: "Saints and other Powerful Men in the Church."
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