Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Basilica Of The Visitation--Annecy, France

I spent most of my formative years at Visitation Academy.  In fact, I went to school there from the ages of 8 to 17 years.  Visitation, or "Viz" as it's casually called here in St. Louis, is an all-girls Catholic grade and high school.  I made many great friends (lots of whom I remain friends with to this day) and got a college-prep, open-minded education there.  The Viz community was a huge part of my life growing up.

At school, we learned about the history of the order of Visitation sisters, who started and are still involved with the school.  We learned about St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal, who founded the order in 1610 in Annecy, France.  We had paintings in the halls of these two storied people, who created a legacy that is now over 400 years old.

From the Viz website, here is a rundown of the history:

The Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary was founded in Annecy, France, by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal. The desire of these two saints was to give the church an order of religious in which women could love God and neighbor intensely, but where they would not have to practice extreme austerities. The special charism of the Visitation Order combines gentleness with a valiant spirit; initiative with communal support; dedication to prayer with presence in the world; a contemplative life with an apostolic dimension. Today the Order numbers about 3000 Sisters in 168 monasteries located in most countries of the world. In the United States there are 12 monasteries in two federations. Six are dedicated to the contemplative lifestyle, and the other six (Georgetown, St. Louis, St. Paul, Wheeling, Brooklyn and Minneapolis) add apostolic monasteries to their contemplative life.

When my parents were planning their visit to the EU, we decided to take a side trip to Annecy to see the Visitation sights there.  Annecy is a vacation town (full of French tourists... somehow it's OK to be in a tourist town when all of the tourists are not of your same nationality!) on the side of a lake (Lake Annecy) and nestled into the alps.  It is in the Savoie region of France, near to Switzerland.  (This is the land of tartiflette, friends.)  It is just beautiful.

This is the view from just outside the Basilica of the Visitation.  The church sits up high and after a tough climb, it's always good to be rewarded with a view.

Looking out from one of the church, er, basilica pillars.

Check the mountain in the background.

Do you see the nun just to the right of the altar?

Francis and Jane, in candle form.

Jane de Chantal remains.

Here lies St. Francis de Sales.

Relics from St. Jane de Chantal.

Her super-worn shoes.

And her patched habit.

The orange highlight is Annecy.  (It's pronounced ANN-SEE.  I have had many a French person not understand me when I called it ann-A-see.)

Vive + Jesus.