1 AUG, 2018 The 2018 SSL Heritage Pilgrimage took place from June 2 to 12, and was led by Bríd Long SSL and coordinated by Judith Dieterle SSL. It was yet another successful venture in tracing and journeying to the beginnings of the Sisters of St Louis in France, Germany and Switzerland. There were twenty SSLs, Associates and a past student - from Brazil, England, France, Ghana, Nigeria and USA.
The Heritage Pilgrimage took them to SSL historic sites in Paris. They looked into the early lives of our founder Louis Bautain and Thérèse de Vaux: their birthplaces, schools and later ministry.
The Alsacien city of Strasbourg offered them a picturesque view into the lives of our ancestors. Here Louis Colmar, Louise Humann and Thérèse Brek dedicated their lives fully to education and serving the needy, leading to the signing of the Turkenstein Pact in 1797. They walked in the footsteps of our ancestors in Rue de la Toussaint, saw where the young Professor Bautain taught Philosophy, and visited the magnificent cathedral where he and his nine disciples were ordained to priesthood. At Mass in St Louis Church, the pastor introduced them as “Sisters founded by the famous Louis Bautain” and later they were proud to see that there is even a street named after him, Rue Bautain. On leaving Strasbourg they prayed in Cimetière Sainte Hélène, burial ground of Louise Humann and her family members.
The Vosges Mountains and Turkenstein were the highlight of the pilgrimage. They hiked and had a delicious picnic, praying and connecting with our first three ancestors. At Baden-Baden, a German health resort with healing waters, Louise Humann and Louis Bautain, both forlorn and depressed, came for healing and met for the first time in 1820. This was the beginning of a lifelong spiritual relationship and led to young Louis Bautain’s return to the faith.
The beautiful scenic drive to Switzerland brought them to the Benedictine Abbey of Einsiedeln, where Louis came on pilgrimage and returned to the sacraments. At the shrine of Marienthal, he discerned his vocation and responded to the call to “become a priest of the Lord.” La Petite Sorbonne in Molsheim prepared him and his disciples for priesthood. They also reflected on and gave thanks our own vocational journey. They also spent a day in Mainz where Louis Colmar served as Bishop and where he and Bishop Jean-Jacques Humann are buried in the nave. There is no trace today of the Institut Joséphine, the school in Mainz, established by Louise and Thérèse.
They arrived in Juilly at the end of their pilgrimage. In prayer they reunited themselves with our founders and all our sisters in the cemetery. They were privileged to meet with the Principal of Cours Bautain, Olivier Maître, who greeted them with kind words. It is a blessing that our first St Louis school, Cours Bautain is still flourishing today. Bríd Long SSL gave the last in the series of lectures highlighting the significance of our foundation in Juilly, a seat of learning since the Middle Ages and where the holy well of St Geneviève sprang up centuries before.
It was striking that Juilly was the only place where they met live members of the St Louis Family. Our Sisters Clare Ryan, Elizabeth Beirne and Anne Killeen welcomed them with open arms. They treated us to delicious homemade waffles, tart and high tea. Together with these generous sisters, they gathered in the chapel to pray and share final reflections on our pilgrimage. The pilgrims felt enriched, excited, renewed and challenged.
To read more about the Heritage Pilgrimmage, click on the latest edition of Musings, our monthly newsletter - Issue 77.