|The Blessed Sacrament stops a severe flood|
The Blessed Sacrament stops a severe flood.
On Monday, November 29, 1433, the city of Avignon (department of Vaucluse in southern France) experienced a severe flood, as torrential rain fell on the region. The River Rhone, overflowing its bed, spilled into the lower elevations, where the poorest population lived. The chapel of the Confraternity of the Gray Penitents, on Teinturiers Street, was flooded during the office of vespers in the late afternoon.
Disaster levels hit on the following day as the flood waters increased hourly, and remained high for two days.
But on that day (November 30), something extraordinary happened: “During the office of Prime, about twenty faithful rushed to the flooded chapel to salvage what they could. They were led by Master Armand and Master Jean de Pouzilhac-Faure, heads of the Gray Penitents.
What they saw inside left them speechless: “On both sides towards the walls, the water was four feet high, flooding the chests containing the Brothers’ robes, but it was inexplicably lower in the middle… and the two level were connected by a slanted slope like a sloped roof…!”
Additionally, “the pews closer to the walls were under water while the ones closer to the nave were dry…and the nave itself and the altar were completely protected!” And there was more: the official papers, liturgical cloths and reliquaries stored under the altar were also dry!
Arnaud and Jean went to fetch the Franciscans friars from the city to witness the miracle. Four of them – including three theologians – arrived at the site and recorded the occurrence.
A copy of the report dating from 1510 is still preserved in the regional archives.
The Confraternity of Penitents has been commemorating this miracle every year, on Saint Andrew’s Day. Wearing a rope around the neck and barefoot, they proceed down the nave of their chapel on their knees, all the way to the altar. Before the Benediction, they sing the canticle of Moses evoking the miraculous passage of the Hebrews through the Red Sea (Ex 15:1-18).
The “loyal and devout Confraternity” of the Gray Penitents of Avignon was founded in the 13th century for a precise mission: to promote and facilitate the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, perpetually exposed in their chapel.
The Mary of Nazareth Team