400th Anniversary

Pilgrimage to Annecy, France

The video above, “The Visitation Sisters of Toledo — 400th Anniversary Pilgrimage,” was released on Jan. 2, 2012, and has received more than 2,500 views in its first two weeks. The Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary was founded in 1610 in Annecy, France. We celebrated our 400th anniversary in 2010 with a pilgrimage to that city.

Read our press release about this video.

Video Text:

Nestled in the breathtaking foothills of the Alpine mountains in eastern France lies the birthplace of the great bishop and doctor of the Church, St. Francis de Sales. This influential bishop, along with St. Jane Frances de Chantal, founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary.

On June 6, 2010, Visitandine sisters from around the world gathered in Annecy, France, the cradle of the Order. We gathered there to mark the fourth centenary of the founding of the Order, and participated in a Salesian symposium, special Masses and prayer vigils, and took walking tours in the footsteps of our two founders. Pilgrimages were also made to the fortress of Des Allinges from which Saint Francis de Sales began the re-evangelization of the Chablais, which was under the control of the Calvinists.

Birthplace of St. Francis

We also went to the site of the Chateau de Sales in Thorens, the birthplace of Saint Francis, where a chapel marks the location of his birth. A stone cross, called Inspiration Cross, marks the spot where Francis received the inspiration to found the Order of the Visitation.

A special Mass was celebrated in the Basilica of the Visitation in Annecy, and we spent precious time with our sisters of Annecy, and with those throughout the world. The Mass was celebrated by Msgr. Yves Boivineau, who reminded us in his homily of St. Francis de Sales’ and St. Jane de Chantal’s great love for the Eucharist. Afterwards, we prayed at the reliquary of St. Jane, and enjoyed a picnic afterwards.

Meeting Other Pilgrims

We walked everywhere. Going to the basilica was always “up” and a steep climb. It allowed us to meet the people who seem delighted to see this large group of nuns, and were all smiles. It was a mixture of languages, but that did not hinder conversation, as we could speak “heart to heart” and there was usually someone who could interpret or draw pictures!

A precious gift was the Crypt Church of the Basilica where a display had been set up tracing the history of our Holy Founders and the Order. What amazed us were all the artifacts that survived the French Revolution and periods of anti-clericalism. We found out that the relics of our Holy Founders had been floated down the river and then hidden in a private home in the space between the ceiling and the second floor. The remains of two Poor Clares were interred where our Holy Founders had lain in order to mislead the authorities. They would think they belonged to our Holy Founders! We owe a big debt of gratitude to the Poor Clares!

Walking in the Saint’s Footsteps

The pilgrimage ended with three days at our Monastery of Paray-le-monial where the Sacred Heart appeared to our sister, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. We walked the very cloisters that she walked, and we spent time in prayer at the places where the Sacred Heart appeared to her. The experience was very moving.

Our last day in Paray was the Feast of the Sacred Heart, and we participated in the Eucharistic procession that included laity and clergy. Our appreciation and fervor for the graces of the Sacred Heart were truly intensified in this anniversary pilgrimage. May God be blessed!

Anniversary is Not the End of the Road

These are the words of our General Assistant, Father Valentin Viguera, about our anniversary:

The fourth centenary is only a stage, not the end of the road. Now you are responsible for the commencement of a new centenary that will not be completed in your lifetime but will be carried on in your history, just as you have carried on the way commenced by the sisters who preceded you. You have the honor and the responsibility of not ending so beautiful a history which began in Annecy on June 6, 1610.

Join us as we journey the next 100 years as we walk in the footsteps of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal, as a Visitation Sister. Contact us today.


Audio: Prayers being said, CreativeCommons.org.
Sound effects: Freesound.org.
Photos of relics: Clothesponey.blogspot.com.
Other photos: Livejesus.blogspot.comlavitadelpopolo.glauco.it,Dailytravelphotos.com.