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.
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
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
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.