When I set off this morning to visit a church that was built in 1916, I had no idea that I would be overcome by emotions and burst out in tears. Let me start from the beginning.
Today was a beautiful winters morning. The sun was shining and I quickly took off my jacket and enjoyed the brisk walk. The church that I was about to visit is more or less 3 kilometres from the centre of Alta Gracia. I was in good spirits and thoroughly enjoyed my walk. A man was selling candles at the entrance and I didn´t buy any because I was not sure what to do with it.
I immediately noticed a lot of elderly people walking towards me. I greeted them with a friendly “Buen dia” and kept on walking wondering where this church was. I was walking through a big and beautiful park. The serenity was touchable and it put me in an even better mood. I was anxious to get to the church because I got the distinct impression that the church service had just ended.
A beautiful rock gate awaited me and I quickly checked if I could see a time table. Yes I was right. There was a mass and I missed it. I felt slightly disappointed but carried on walking anyway.
I reached a place carved out of rock and stone and in the middle was a statue of a woman. Flowers were laying at her feet. Three women were sitting in the front rows and I couldn´t see their faces. A man was in the front praying. I sat down for a while and didn´t want to disturb anyone.
As I got up I saw a wall to my left. It was very interesting with what looked like plaques all over it. What was this? I had absolutely no idea. I walked up the stairs and started to look around. All the plaques had a short message and in this message they were thanking “The Virgen of Lourdes“. I am not Catholic and I don´t know much about the Saints and Virgins. I put my camera down and started to read what was written on the plaques.
A photo of a baby was mounted to one and another had a small wooden house next to it. Suddenly I remembered a story that friends told me. They were childless for many years and she went to a sacred place and prayed for a miracle. 2 months later she was pregnant! I remembered then that it must have been the “Virgen of Lourdes”.
It happened so quickly and the next moment my eyes were welling up with tears and I was sobbing. No sound, just tears running down my cheek. I was overwhelmed by all the miracles that I have seen in front of me. How often do we see that? It showed me that miracles still happen. I prayed for one as well.
I walked up the stairs to find the church. It is a beautiful church built out of rock and it is a replica of the original Lourdes Grotto in the French Pyrenees. I still had no idea what it all meant but that is what the brochure said.
The church was closed but I could peek inside through the security gate. The church is in desperate need of maintenance and paint were peeling on the walls. Nevertheless it was beautiful.
As I made my way down I saw a pair of soccer shoes on the stairs.
I walked back to the wall of recognition and saw a huge chandelier of candles standing in one corner. Now I understood why I had to buy a candle. I felt guilty. I lingered for another couple of minutes and then walked back to the entrance. My feet felt heavy. I was still in the moment.
There is a beautiful restaurant just outside the entrance and I stopped to have a cup of coffee. It was time to sit down.I couldn´t help to think that I came here today to see an old church and instead I have witnessed miracles. I was moved beyond words.
Date visited: 14 July 2011
Where: Alta Gracia, Cordoba, Argentina