Grand-mere stirred the black iron soup pot over the open flames and continued her story about the preparation to the pilgrimage to St. Martin. All the preparations were made for our journey and on the appointed day the Count’s carriages arrived to pick up Grand-mere and Anne Marie. Grand-mere began to explain to me about the purpose of pilgrimage.
The village of San Martin was nestled in the French Alps. Each year La Madonna de Frenestre was temporarily housed in San Martin and then carried up the high mountain trails in the summer months to the small chapel of Vesubie.
The chapel stood alone with a back-drop of high mountain ridge. Some of the ancient pilgrimage trails had been the roads of the Romans and before that had been natural animal trails for deer, wolves, wild mountain goats and sheep. But the deeper secrets of the pilgrimage trails was they were built on what the Gauls called the wouivre. Wouivre in ancient Gaul meant “A serpent the glides through the landscape” This serpent energy is what the French called the Lignes telluric or “ley-lines”. The wildlife instinctively knew that the life-force of the Earth was the most strongest in these areas. Ancient Rome built their temples directly on the Ley of the Land. Later the church replaced the Roman temples with churches, chapels cathedrals and even the humble mountain shrines. These sacred place were often built on sacred wells, holy springs and at times even had standing stones built within the church’s walls or under the altar.
These sacred places generated a fertile healing energy that was connected to the rising of the life force every Spring and the fall of the life force every autumn. Spring started in the summer time in the French Alps when the snow glaciers melted to feed the alpine meadows which bloomed with so many precious wildflowers that carried the Madonna’s name. This is when the Madonna of Frenestre was taken to the chapel of Vesubie.
Grand-mere went on to explain how during pilgrimage one’s focus on pray and meditation was of utmost importance because if one tuned themselves to the Virgin Mother and Nature’s awakened energy of the Ley-lines miracles could occur. This energy was exhilarating and was a combination of the high altitudes, the rising life force of Springtime, pray, meditation and the walking of the high mountain trails. One would feel most alive. Many people walked barefoot which for some felt like a penance of some kind. But in actuality it opened the bottom of the feet to this invisible force of Nature. And at the same time the pilgrims focus on prayer awakened the land and a natural harmony between the human, earth and sky would occur.
The Madonna of Frenestre referred to a window in the high mountains to the valley below Grand-mere explained.
The carriage ride took time following the mediterranean coast line that had once been the ancient Roman roads into Gaul. Slowly the carriage began to climb the high mountain roads of the French Alps. Dairy cows were grazing in grassy meadows and the sweet melody of cow bells could be heard as they moved slowly like a methodical dance through the field. Each cow’s bell had a slightly different sound. This allowed the farmers to know precisely where each cows had wandered off in the field. But all together the bells seem to create a music that was only known by all travelers of alpine roads.
We were approaching the village of St Martin, the skyline was a magnificat view of high mountains and a crystal blue sky. The driver of our carriage came to inn where rooms had been made ready for our arrival. The footman said he would pass the message on to Count Hugh that we had arrived and we would be expected to be his guest for dinner that night. Anne Maria excitement fluttered like butterflies on spring day in a garden. We retried to our rooms to rest and then prepare for the evening meal.