When I am abroad I am always delighted to find places where the presence of the Lord is particularly strong. On this occasion I was in Valldemossa, a town best known to tourists for being the temporary residence of Frederick Chopin and his mistress Georges Sand, but to islanders as the birthplace of their national saint.
I had gone in search of Catalina Thomas’ birthplace, which is now a small sanctuary, beautifully full of the Lord’s presence. Notice boards explain in eight languages that from an early age her primary gifting was towards profound contemplation.
There is nothing to indicate that this 16th century nun performed any miracles, and none of the dramatic stories associated with Francis of Asissi or Catherine of Siena, the better known patron saints of Europe, but the Lord’s presence was palpably strong, and the notices conclude with a sincere prayer for visitors to be able to enter more deeply into the ministry of contemplation: that is the ability to be deeply at home in the Lord’s presence.
As visitors (mainly French and German) tiptoed into the little chapel with that particular reserve people often have when they know they are entering a holy place, but feel a bit awkward because places of prayer are anything but their natural habitat, I decided to draw people’s attention to the Lord’s presence. One thing led to another and the Lord gave me something to share with them, either by praying with them, or by way of witness with virtually everyone who came through the door. It was a rich experience, made all the easier by the surrounding sense of God’s presence.
I mentioned in Exceedingly Interesting Italian Itinerary how something similar happened last year in Italy when I was staying next to Catherine of Siena’s house. There was a piano in the lounge there, and as I played in the spirit, the music reached out all over the building and and made it so easy to talk and pray with the people staying there, and in some cases to bring words from the Lord to people who wouldn’t normally have any relationship with church. The combination of people being away from their usual routine, and in a place where the Lord has worked can be a powerful combination! May the Lord provide opportunities for us all to share our faith this summer . . .