A nostalgic step back in time was achieved with a very special birthday celebration of our beloved saint. This event was held on her 220th birthday anniversary on October 25th at the Little Sisters of the Poor St. Louis Home. Residents, staff, auxiliary members, AJJ members, and Sisters attended with great anticipation.
A few members of the staff and Residents were dressed in traditional Brittany folk attire with curtsies and greetings of “Bonjour Madame or Bonjour Messieur” to the delight and smiles of all the guests. They helped everyone to their seats or led them to view a special display table filled with the sights and times of Cancale in Brittany, France where St. Jeanne Jugan was born. Traditional Brittany folk music played while everyone viewed the display with great interest.
The Master of Ceremonies welcomed everyone and introduced a very special DVD of St. Jeanne Jugan’s life. The narrator depicted the saint’s life, beginning with her parents and birth place, followed by the main steps she took leading to the founding of the Little Sisters of the Poor, her death and her canonization. Also included were the stories and photos of all the places she lived, including the little cottage where she took in her first sick poor elderly woman and gave her her own bed. In addition, everyone viewed the beautiful estate property of “La Tour Saint Joseph” motherhouse at Saint-Pern, France. This is still the motherhouse of the congregation where Sisters are trained and sent out on mission.
After the inspiring DVD, the guests were served French desserts of pastries, cookies, cheese, fruits, wine, champagne, and “cider,” the drink of Brittany. While the guests ate and drank, our narrator led the Residents in a trivia game on the dates and life of St. Jeanne Jugan. The Sisters themselves shared their favorite stories about St. Jeanne Jugan and their experience at La Tour. One of these stories was when St. Jeanne Jugan stopped a charging bull, saving the novices. Another Sister told of how Charles Dickens visited St. Jeanne Jugan, and was overcome with emotion in her presence. Another Sister told the story of the time the saint gave a young, crippled boy her crutch, and how he miraculously began to walk around. The guests enjoyed this very informative approach to St. Jeanne Jugan, saying that they were able to see her in a different light.
Finally, the Sisters sang two French hymns, possibly ones St. Jeanne Jugan herself had sung. Everyone left the afternoon celebration with many “ooh la la’s,” knowing in our hearts that St. Jeanne was well pleased with her 220th birthday party, celebrated with loving appreciation!
St. Jeanne Jugan, thank you! Pray for us!