Rosaline: “May, 2015. My husband Tony and I were on a Europe Tour. Both of us had retired from our professions and we had the time to relax, so we planned the entire itinerary on our own. Touring without a guide proved to be quite a challenge in every new country, but we took it in our stride, one day at a time. This story happened after two days in Paris… on our way to Lourdes, by train…”
Muriel: “It was a Saturday morning after a very tiring working week. I was about to meet my mum, my sister and my niece in Lourdes for a short week-end. Before getting there, I would get a rest on the TGV… what I thought just before the nice lady and her husband, sitting next to me, offered to share their breakfast.”
Rosaline: We had the great fortune to be travelling with Muriel. In the course of our conversation, we came to know about Muriel’s dedication to Our Lady of Lourdes and the voluntary service she does there. We were highly impressed about what she does for the less fortunate ones.
Muriel: When I was a little girl, I wanted to learn many languages to be able to speak with people from all over the world. When I started doing voluntary service in Lourdes with the ‘Hospitalité Notre Dame de la Voie’, I also loved it because Lourdes is so international! Later, I became a translator, and I still enjoy sharing experiences with people from other countries. So, meeting Rosaline and Tony was just great!
Rosaline: The surprising thing is that, from the time we got acquainted with her, the issues we had, seemed to be taken care of in a jiffy, issues like how to go up to the church with all our luggage or where to keep them (since we were not spending the night at Lourdes), whether we could keep them at the train station, etc, just became a child’s play, with Muriel around.
Muriel: I was impressed at their Europe tour! They would spend less than half-day in Lourdes before reaching Toulouse then Barcelona… but they had two big heavy suitcases… where could they leave them in Lourdes for a couple of hours? After drawing a map of Lourdes and explaining what they could see in a short time, I asked the train steward to give me a clue…
Rosaline: Muriel took it on herself to find solutions to our problems even though she was a total stranger to us. En-route, she called up the Station Master of Lourdes and found out whether there was any luggage storage facility at the train station. When she found out there wasn’t any, she called up her sister, who was on her way to Lourdes from Perpignan.
Muriel: … no possibility to store the luggage at the station… I really needed to help them. At that moment, I thought how lucky I was to go to Lourdes as often as I wanted whereas Rosaline and Tony may stop there only once in their lives… My phone call with my sister was quite amazing: “When did you meet them?” She asked. “2 hours ago on the train!” I answered. “Well… we are going to Lourdes, aren’t we? We’ll wait for you three at the station.”
Rosaline: Muriel told us that her sister would keep our suitcases in her car, till we finish praying at the shrine. All this and more coming from a mere acquaintance touched our hearts immensely. We felt that Our Lady was already showering us with miracles, even before we reached her shrine. Words cannot express how we felt that day. When the train reached the station, there was Muriel’s mom, Maryse, Magali, her sister, along with her daughter, Valentine, waiting to receive us – total strangers to them, but made to feel that we were their long lost friends.
Muriel: My sister and I drove Rosaline and Tony to the Sanctuaire, while our Mum and Valentine made the way on foot. We showed our friends where we would wait for them to drive them back to the station. An hour later, we bumped into Rosaline and Tony ending the Way of the Cross. Like old friends, we took some pictures together!
Rosaline: Before dropping us at the train station, Muriel and her family presented us with some souvenirs from Lourdes. Thus began a new friendship between Muriel and us, which still continues till today. Each time that she makes a visit to the shrine, she lights a candle for our intentions…
Muriel: This only happens in Lourdes! Sometimes, when I tell people about that lovely afternoon, some of them hardly believe me… Every time I go to Lourdes, either on my own or with my family or my Hospitalité, I send a picture to my friends in India and I light a candle for them… asking Our Lady of Lourdes to give them the opportunity to come back one day… When Roanna, Rosaline and Tony’s daughter, had her baby girl, Kierstin, my Mum, my sister and I were in Lourdes and it was my birthday… can you believe it? So we bought a present there, took it to the Grotto and sent it to Australia where Roanna and her husband live.
Rosaline: If the world had a lot of Muriels around, what a lovely place this world would be. I keep questioning myself, would I have done the same thing, if I were to have been in Muriel’s shoes? Doubtful is the answer, but Muriel has taught me a lesson… always make a foreigner feel at home in your own country. Thanks Muriel, for demonstrating it to us. My eyes are now opened and I believe that it’s never too late to learn. God bless Muriel, her family and all the volunteers who are helping out at Lourdes.
Muriel: Every time I get some news from Rosaline and Tony, I thank Our Lady for this friendship which was born on a train and in Lourdes (do you remember that I am a volunteer with the ‘Hospitalité Notre Dame de la Voie’ funded by railway workers?). One day, we will meet again, for sure… Our Lady of Lourdes will help us again.
Rosaline, Tony and Muriel
19 November, 2019